Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance is January 19

MLK image from WPT Wisconsin’s 35th annual tribute and ceremony celebrates Dr. King’s life and legacy through words and music. Dr. Jonathan Overby of Wisconsin Public Radio will host the annual State of Wisconsin Tribute & Ceremony honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Capitol rotunda in Madison. Watch live online at noon Monday, Jan. 19.

Madison-Dane County King Holiday Observance

King Holiday keynote speaker depicted in film "Selma" will bring timely message about the role of young people in the quest for social change.
King Holiday keynote speaker depicted in film “Selma” will bring timely message about the role of young people in the quest for social change.

The Madison/Dane County King Coalition is pleased to welcome Diane Nash to Madison to serve as keynote speaker for the 30th Annual Madison & Dane County King Holiday Observance on Monday, January 19th, 6 p.m. at the Overture Center.

Nash – who is depicted in the new film “Selma” about the epic march from Selma to Montgomery that culminated in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – helped found the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She was chairperson of the student sit-in movement in Nashville, Tennessee-the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters and she coordinated the “Freedom Ride” from Birmingham to Jackson.

Nash will bring a unique and timely perspective. The recent emergence in Madison of the Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition is reminiscent in many ways of the SNCC’s formation more than half a century ago. Both groups were established to give young African-Americans a prominent voice in the struggle for social change necessary for justice and equality for all. Both groups also elicited concern about their existence and their tactics both from those who shared their goals, and those who opposed them.

The City-County Observance will take place on Monday, January 19, 2015 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Overture Center for the Arts. This year’s observance continues the popular tradition that was revived last year of kicking-off with a “Freedom Songs Sing-in” from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Rotunda of the Overture Center. The Observance will then take place beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater. The City-County Observance will serve as the capstone to a series of events commemorating the King Holiday that begin on Friday with a Free Community Dinner (other event details follow).

MLK COMMUNITY CHOIR – The City-County Observance will also feature presentation of the City & County King Humanitarian awards by Mayor Paul Soglin and County Executive Joe Parisi, a call to action, and the MLK Community Choir. The MLK Community Choir is led by one of Madison’s most noted music directors – Leotha Stanley. Participation in the choir is open to all interested individuals.

No registration or audition is required; interested individuals need only attend the two upcoming rehearsals. Rehearsals take place on Tuesday, January 13, at 7 pm and Saturday, January 17, at 11 a.m. at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 2019 Fisher Street.

Other King Coalition Sponsored Events

FREE COMMUNITY DINNER – FRIDAY, JANUARY 16th: The community is also invited to attend the King Coalition’s 28th Annual Free Community Dinner, 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m., on Friday, January 16th at the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Gordon Dining and Event Center, 770 W. Dayton St., on the 2nd Floor. More than 500 community members are expected to enjoy a wonderful meal with friends, old and new, in Dr. King’s spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. Free shuttle bus service to and from the dinner may be available. Details will be posted online in January at

YOUTH DAY OF SERVICE 2015 – MONDAY, JANUARY 19th: Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?” Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities. The MLK Youth Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. In Madison, 300 middle and high school students are expected at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery where they will learn how science and service can intersect. The event is open to any Dane County middle or high school students and there is no cost to participate. However, registration is limited. Adult volunteers are also needed. Register online:

The King Coalition was established in the fall of 1985 as a community group to plan the official City of Madison and Dane County observances of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. The Coalition brings people from all walks of life together in the spirit of true brotherhood and sisterhood to commemorate the life and accomplishments of this renowned leader of the civil rights movement. King Coalition events encourage the people of Dane County to reaffirm their commitment to building a just community out of our racial, religious and economic diversity.

In addition to King Coalition sponsored events, other activities commemorating the King Holiday include:

Saturday, January 17, I Have a Dream Scholarship Ball: Sponsored by Women In Focus, the Ball raises money to provide college scholarships to deserving students. The festive evening will be held at the Marriott Madison West, beginning at 6 p.m. Visit for more info.

Sunday, January 18, The 31st Annual Urban League Youth Recognition Breakfast, 7:45 a.m., Edgewood High School, 2219 Monroe Street. Nearly 200 students will be recognized for their outstanding academic accomplishments and community services. Additionally, the 2015 Betty Franklin-Hammonds Scholarships will be presented and the Madison Metropolitan School District will announce the 2015 Mann Scholars. Tickets are available for $10 online at or by calling (608) 729-1200.