A community ceremony commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 15) at St. James the Greater Catholic Church, 2502 11th St. in Eau Claire.
The public is invited to attend the Martin Luther King Day observance. Event sponsors include the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UW-EC), its Colleges of Arts and Sciences and of Education and Human Sciences and its Office of Multicultural Affairs. Uniting Bridges is organizing the event.
Earlier on Monday, area residents will have the opportunity to honor King’s legacy with an afternoon of service to several nonprofit organizations.
Students and faculty from area elementary, middle and high schools, along with UW-EC students and community members, will participate in the evening remembrance ceremony. Also expected to participate are faculty members from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and Chippewa Valley Technical College, and representatives of business, government and education in Eau Claire.
State representatives Warren Petryk (R-Eleva) and Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) will be among the featured speakers.
Looking to Heal Racial Divisions
“During this year’s event, we are speaking to the racial divisions that are apparent in our American society and looking to Dr. King for ways that we can heal them and move forward to his ‘Beloved Community,'” said Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, UW-EC professor of history and the event director.
The ceremony will include readings from several of King’s works, including his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and his speech “How Long, Not Long.” Multimedia presentations of the history of the civil rights movement are also planned, and the Chippewa Valley Youth Chorus and soloists Keith Johnathan and Christopher Jorgenson will perform.
Cathy Reitz leads the youth chorus. Dr. Frank Watkins, conductor of UW-EC’s Women’s Concert Chorale, Women’s Chorus and Symphonic Choir, is the event’s musical director, and Dr. Ryan Jones, an associate professor of music at UW-EC, is the event’s assistant director.
Other event sponsors include St. James the Greater Catholic Church; the city of Eau Claire and its Police Department; Schmitt Music; Speed of Sound; the UW-EC Chancellor’s Office; and the Blugold Beginnings program.
Service Activities to Honor King’s Legacy
Earlier in the day, UW-EC’s AmeriCorps ECLIPSE program will coordinate service activities honoring Dr. King’s legacy. Campus and community volunteers of all ages are invited to to participate, starting with a meal at The Community Table, 320 Putnam St., from noon to 1 p.m.
Volunteers will then break into groups and, until 4 p.m., will provide services at several area nonprofit organizations. Volunteers can email ECLIPSE@uwec.edu to register in advance or they can sign up at The Community Table on Monday.
ECLIPSE (Early Childhood Literacy Intervention Program Services and Evaluation) is an AmeriCorps program focused on early childhood literacy in Eau Claire and Altoona. It currently serves five sites in the area and emphasizes language, emergent reading and writing, socialization and interaction.