2017 King Coalition King Holiday
Pushing Back Against Fear
|King Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Gloria Hawkins (l-r) and Ed Lee
By Jonathan Gramling
It seems that Affirmative Action and civil rights have been under attack
since the late 1970s, receiving a big push with the election of Ronald
Reagan as president in 1980. History seems to be repeating itself with
the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
“It seems critical to me this year that we recommit ourselves to pushing
forwards with the vision that Dr. King had for this country,” said Ed Lee,
co-chair of the King Coalition, a cross-section of labor, faith community,
education and community leaders. “Certainly, at no other time in my
recent memory has the move by some people to turn back the hands of
time been so blatant, so aggressive. It seems like we have a person, a
president in the White House who is seemingly sympathetic to white
supremacists is quite frankly startling, frightening and disheartening.
This year feels, in some ways, more important than most to be able to
come together with other people who share my sense of social justice
and racial equity and be very public about it.”
Since 1985, the King Coalition has been a sponsor of some of the major activities and events that occur during the King Holiday weekend. It all
begins with the Free Community Dinner, being held January 12, 4:40-7 p.m., at Gordon Commons on the UW-Madison campus.
“One of the things that I feel is special about the dinner — in addition to that it is free — is it brings people from a broad cross section of the
community together,” said Dr. Gloria Hawkins, the other King Coalition chair. “It doesn’t discriminate against people regardless to what their
station in life might be. It really provides an opportunity to fellowship, to interact, to learn from others as well as to learn more — particularly for
young people — about the King legacy and what it has really meant not only for a small section of the community, but really for a broad cross
section of people throughout the United States. It has made us better people because of the things which he tried to do in terms of instilling a
determination to really teach young men and women and not-so-young men and women that we are all equal and we should be moving towards
justice for all.”
Dinner is served throughout the evening. Shuttle buses leave the YWCA Downtown at 5:45 p.m. and Grace Episcopal Church at 5:55 p.m. to
bring people from the downtown shelters and others to the event. The chicken dinner complete with macaroni cheese and sweet potato pie is
provided by the staff of Gordon Commons. Union members and members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority help hast the event.
On Sunday afternoon, the MLK Ecumenical Service will be held at the Fountain of Life Church, 4:30-6 p.m.
“It’s an event that tries to bring together people from a broad cross-section of faiths to honor Dr. King and his legacy,” Lee said. “Our
participants this year include Pastor Alexander Gee from Fountain of Life Church, Pastor Charles Yu from Blackhawk Church, Pastor Marcus
Allen from Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Rabbi Renee Bauer, chaplain at Jewish Social Services, Rev. Karen Armina from James Reeb Unitarian
Universalist Church, Romilia Schuleter, a community leader and Pastor Kevin Evanco from Fountain of life. There will also be some remarks
from Dr. Ruben Anthony Jr., the CEO of the Urban League, some poetry from Fabu and some spoken word from Tiffany Ike, a UW graduate
student and spoken word artist. The Martin Luther King Community Choir and the Fountain of Life Choir will perform that evening apart and
And then on Monday, January 15, Dr. King’s birthday, the 33rd Annual City-County King Celebration will be held in the Capitol Theater of the
Overture Center beginning at 6 p.m. The keynote speaker is former NAACP National Board member Frank Humphrey.
“On the King Holiday, we think of national figures who have been involved in the civil rights movement to give our keynote speech, while we
do have someone here from within our community who is a national figure in civil rights,” Hawkins said. “Frank Humphrey has been involved
in the NAACP on the national board for more than 10-20 years. He is currently president of the Wisconsin State NAACP Conference. And I think
we also need to recognize not only the talents, but also the commitment and the service that people here within our own community have done
and not only for the local and state communities, but also have had an impact on the national level.”
The King Coalition has had a major impact on how the King Holiday is celebrated each year in the Madison area. It’s a holiday that strengthens
the resolve of the civil rights movement even in its darkest hour.