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National problems, local activism are highlights of MLK program from Viterbo

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Martin Luther King Junior was killed more than 50 years ago, but his work must continue in America. 

That message from the Rev. William Barber was a centerpiece of La Crosse’s King Day celebration organized by Viterbo on Monday night. 

Barber is a co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, founded by Dr. King in 1968, and he says racism and poverty are among the sins which must be fought in America, and which are seen in the battle against COVID-19.

He says “most of the people who have died (from COVID) have been poor and low-wealth…which is the one stat, the one piece of data that we’re not even tracking right now.”    

Barber says he would like to see free COVID treatment around the country, along with a freeze on rent and utility payments.             

During the live virtual ceremony on Facebook, Barber said the violence seen in Washington this month reminded him of unrest during Dr. King’s time, and well before that.

“You cannot say it is non-American, it is very much a part of the American history,” said Barber. “The same tactic Trump used has been used by many others. They poured the gasoline. The difference is, he lit a match.”

Barber spoke of the need to fight poverty, racism, and the nation’s war economy.  He pointed out that King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech of 1963 was actually titled ‘Normalcy Never Again.’       

The La Crosse ceremony also honored local residents for their work in battling racism and other national problems. 

The local King Day committee presented Amanda Goodenough, the director of Campus Climate at UW-L, with its annual leadership award, and Logan High student Chaya Davis was recognized, as a founder of the Black Student Leaders group at her school.   

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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