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MLK Day Milwaukee celebrations focus on racial injustice work still needed to be done

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Posted at 6:35 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 19:35:51-05

MILWAUKEE — The Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations look a little different this year in Milwaukee. Instead of packed rooms with songs and speeches, many organizations have taken their events online.

Organizations like the Martin Luther King Justice Coalition is celebrating 20 years. Their event touched on themes of racial and social justice that were front and center over the past year, including the Black Lives Matter protests.

Black Lives Matter sign.
Black Lives Matter sign.

"We are so glad to see local young leaders along with aggrieved families stand up against police violence and racism,” said George Martin, speaking at the Martin Luther King Justice Coalition.

The Coalition honored the People's Movement, which has organized marches in Milwaukee since the summer.

people's movement march
Khalil Coleman (left) talked to the crowd with a bull horn while Frank Nitty (right) stands next to him before the People's Movement started marching.

"Here in Milwaukee they have marched for over 230 days, passing the consecutive days of our Civil Rights marches,” said Martin.

The Milwaukee Public Library brought in world-renowned artist and illustrator Charly Palmer to speak. Palmer grew up in Milwaukee's north side just off 39th and Capitol and graduated from Custer High School. His work was featured this past June on the cover of Time magazine when Black Lives Matter protests first took to the streets.

"The idea of Black Lives Matter, I don't want it misunderstood, it is so much bigger than Black Lives Matter,” said Palmer. "We should not request a position of mattering, we should insist that we are acknowledged for our contributions.”

Palmer's art usually conveys African American history. He says on this MLK day we all can make a decision to either stand against racism or be silent when it happens.

“When you see injustice and when you see bad behavior you have a choice. You can either be a part of it, but remain silent is to be part of it,” said Palmer. “When you see someone speak out illy of Civil Rights or racism if you don't say something you are supporting their ideas."

The full event is available online here.

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