Racine students use day off for service in honor of MLK Jr.

RACINE -- Hundreds of students in Racine honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday by participating in community service projects. Students visited a homeless shelter to help organize clothes, visited a nursing home and even helped clean at a local library, on a day when most students are enjoying a day off.

The students say they wanted to make the most of their day off by uniting to give back to the community, doing things Dr. King would have wanted to see. "Most people argue these students have a day off, you just want a day off for the holidays. No, that's really not it. We wanted to honor a man that helped pretty much bring America where it is today," Racine student Lani Jensen said.

A group called "Youth Empowered in the Struggle," also referred to as "YES," pulled students from different cultural backgrounds together to participate in community service activities throughout Racine, along with a social justice workshop with the ACLU.

Jensen is a student leader in YES and says she was thrilled to participate in events honoring Dr. King. "He brought our communities together, and I thought that was pretty cool, so why shouldn't we honor a man who did that?" Jensen said. "We try to bring people together in all of the schools. We work for student, immigrant and worker rights, just like MLK," Racine student Sam Kohlman said.

Dr. King's famous "I have a dream" speech still inspires students today. They wrote their dreams and aspirations on a puzzle piece to form a poster. "When they put it all together, they can see clearly that it's Martin Luther King Jr., so they can tell their dreams are realized through Dr. King's message, and also that by working together, we are able to accomplish something," Racine teacher Mike Jensen said.

Students say their focus now is making sure they do their part to ensure Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy lives on. "It is an amazing thing, what he did. He risked his life, as well as other figures back then, when the Civil Rights Movement began, and I admire Dr. King for that," Racine student Bryan Suzan said.