Got the day off? Here's how to observe.

Every year, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day sees a flurry of events. The MLK Celebration Breakfast, hosted by the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, draws high-ranking politicians for a morning of speeches and orange juice.

Another tradition occurring the Sunday before, on Jan. 20, will send a chill up your spine: The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration held at the Marcus Center annually, a birthday party for someone who passed away without quite ever leaving.

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MLK statute in Bronzeville. Photo by Dominic Inouye.

At the core of the event, produced by Martha Love, are the winners of a school speech, writing and art competition meditating on King’s legacy and lessons.

In past years, students have delivered powerful speeches on racism, division in Milwaukee and sticking up for fairness. This year should be no different.

A panel selects the winners from thousands of entries from area kids, who will take the stage alongside local arts groups in Uihlein Hall, including Latino Arts Strings, MPS Milwaukee High School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble, O.N.F.Y.A.H dance studio and Milwaukee Flyers Tumbling Team.

Milwaukee and Atlanta are the only cities to have celebrated King’s birthday continuously since 1984. And while Atlanta has done so as his home city, Milwaukee is honoring his visits here in 1957 and 1964, and his ideas.


“How to Spend MLK Day in MKE” appears in the January 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop or find the issue on newsstands, starting Dec. 31.

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