A crowd of hundreds filled the rotunda of the state Capitol building in Madison Monday, for an annual ceremony honoring the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. With music and speeches that drew heavily on the words of the slain civil rights leader, this year’s event focused on a theme of “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.”
AUDIO: Malcolm Williams and Great Faith (2:54)
The protest anthem from the Civil Rights Movement was featured throughout the event, which also honors those who have continued the struggle for equality with an award named in Dr. King’s honor. Recipients of the award this year were Dr. Howard J. Fuller, a former superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, and Father James Groppi, an activist Catholic priest who took part in marches with the Milwaukee NAACP during the late 1960s. Groppi passed away in 1985 in his native Milwaukee.
Author and journalist John Fountain was a featured speaker at the ceremony, delivering a speech on how the struggle for equality has continued since Dr. King’s death and the problems that continue to face minority communities across the country. With issues ranging from gang violence to high incarceration rates for black youth, Fountain said we must choose between moving “toward chaos or toward community.”
AUDIO: John W. Fountain (1:56)
Fountain said faith is needed to continue the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement and to overcome the modern problems it now faces, noting “we’ve come too far to turn back now.”