Stateline is to mark King Jr. Day

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BDN file photo Beloit Memorial High School Choir students performed at a past Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration at Blackhawk Technical College. This year's commemoration will be held Saturday.

BELOIT - The Stateline Area will be commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy with a slew of events in the coming weeks starting this weekend.

Here are ways residents can honor the civil rights activist:

• From 3-5 p.m. Saturday, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration will be held at the Blackhawk Technical College central campus between Beloit and Janesville. The event features student performances based on the Langston Hughes poem "A Dream Deferred." Artwork by local students will be displayed, and there will be ethnic food samples, awards, cultural sharing and more. The event is a partnership among the Diversity Action Team of Rock County, YWCA of Rock County, United Auto Workers Local 95, the School District of Beloit, the School District of Janesville, Hedberg Public Library, Beloit Public Library and the American Association of University Women. The event is free and open to the public. Blackhawk Technical College's central campus is at 6004 S. County Road G.

• The School District of Beloit also is planning the Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast from 8-10 a.m. Monday at the Eclipse Center, 3 Eclipse Center, Beloit.

The event will feature speaker Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, students reading essays, musical performances by students and a breakfast.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly named Chris Jackson, is a former NBA basketball star who played with the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Vancouver Grizzlies. While playing for the Denver Nuggets, he refused to stand for the national anthem because of his Muslim beliefs and received criticism for it.

Tickets were available in advance, but no tickets will be sold at the door.

• Beloit College is planning its own convocation to honor the late civil rights icon at 4:15 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the Eaton Chapel. Cecil Youngblood, associate dean for inclusive living and learning, said every year the college's goal is to help the Beloit community understand a different facet of King's legacy.

"He was much more than just his 'I Have a Dream' speech," Youngblood said.

This year's convocation, called "Martin Luther King Jr.: His dream, her voice. Amplifying the voices of women yesterday, today and tomorrow," will focus on the women of King's movement and how it relates to modern activism such as the Black Lives Matter movement that was started by three women. He said these women who have been at the forefront of modern activism are embracing King's legacy along with the women of the past who supported him.

He said King's movement was born out of Rosa Park's decision not to give up her seat on a bus. While history often talks about the men marching with King, it sometimes leaves out the women who supported families and whole communities during the Civil Rights Era up to today. This is true of Coretta Scott King, King's wife, and how she carried on even after King was assassinated.

The event will feature opening remarks from Beloit College President Scott Bierman, students Jonathan Dudley, who works in the Office of Inclusive Living and Learning, and Shavaise Thomas, president of the college's Black Students United, will be presenting their take on King's legacy. The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Michael Ramsdail, of Lighthouse Fellowship Church. Youngblood said Ramsdail is an alumnus of Beloit College and Beloit Memorial High School and has been a longtime supporter of the college and the Office of Inclusive Living and Learning.

Youngblood said in the past the event has taken place on MLK Day itself, but the college decided to push it back since students aren't back on campus until Jan. 22.

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