Cole was born and raised in Los Angeles, California by his family and local church in the value of faith. Kenneth’s involvement in his community began at church,
where he has served as choir member, youth leader, and Sunday school superintendent, according to a joint city-county press release. Kenneth attended UW-
Madison as a member of Posse. While at university, Kenneth was active with the Wisconsin Black Student Union, the Black History Month Planning Board
Committee, and Alpha Phi and Alpha Fraternity Inc. He was also involved in the UW-Blackout and Blindside campaigns. Since graduation, Cole has worked towards
youth development and community organizing with the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, the Urban League of Greater Madison, Madison School & Community
Recreation, and the Wisconsin Leadership Development Project—among other professional organizations. In his current path, Cole finds himself working to build
and sustain engaging and enriching after school programs and tutoring services at Sherman Middle School.
Next, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi introduced Ada Deer, the 2020 King Humanitarian Award winner. Deer grew up in poverty on the Menominee reservation,
but that did not stop her from achieving her goals. She went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in social work from UW Madison and a master’s degree in social work
from Columbia University School of Social Work. In 1971, Ada became a leader for a grassroots movement of the Menominee people that resulted in a historic
reversal of unjust federal Indian policy and restored federal tribal recognition.
In 1992, Ada became the first American Indian woman to win the nomination of a major political party for Congress, when she won the Democratic nomination for
the 2nd District. After losing the general election, Ada applied for and became the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs for President Bill Clinton—the first woman to
hold the position. During her tenure, 226 Alaskan Native villages as well as American
Indian tribes in California and Michigan received federal recognition.
The keynote speech was given by Joyce Ladner, a contemporary of Dr. King who was involved in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and helped with
the planning and implementation of the 1963 March on Washington. During her speech, Ladner gave a first-person account of many of the milestones of the civil
rights movement during that era.
After the Litany of Rededication was given by Brenda Gonzalez, UW-Madison director of community relations, Wisconsin Lieutenant Mandala
Barnes gave a rousing Call to Action for people to get involved during 2020, reminding the audience that much remains undone.
And then, as is traditional, the observance ended with a performance of We Shall Overcome. The 2020 Madison & Dane County King Holiday Observance was a
fitting tribute to a great man and movement.