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Viterbo hosting multiple events celebrating Martin Luther King Day, including keynote speaker Rev. Dr. William Barber

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FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, speaks to thousands during his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in Washington. A new documentary “MLK/FBI,” shows how FBI director J. Edgar Hoover used the full force of his federal law enforcement agency to attack King and his progressive, nonviolent cause. That included wiretaps, blackmail and informers, trying to find dirt on King. (AP Photo/File)

A virus pandemic isn’t stopping Viterbo from continuing its tradition of going all out to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

Barber II

While events will be happening all day, Rev. Dr. William Barber II will be the university’s keynote speaker.

“He is, right now, probably America’s most recognizable social justice advocate,” Viterbo professor, Dr. Richard Kyte said Thursday on La Crosse Talk PM (24:30 into podcast). “With organizations like Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign, he’s been very vocal in the kind of policy changes that he thinks we should be making as a country to be more just.”

A typical year would see Viterbo fill up the 1,200-seat Fine Arts Center for the speech. Because the virus is still not under control, the university will host Barber on its Facebook page (click here).

One of Barber’s notable contributions to social justice right now is through the Poor People’s Campaign, which was helped organized by King the year he was assassinated.

“(Barber is) really the inheritor of Martin Luther King’s voice,” Kyte said. “He carries on this tradition of nonviolent advocacy, and he’s very outspoken of making profound change out of a position of truth, love and justice.”

Barber’s speech just caps what Viterbo is doing throughout the MLK Day.

“There’s more interest in celebrating diversity and the legacy of Martin Luther King here in our community,” Kyte said, “but, also, we’ve done a pretty good job of trying to bring in speakers who can raise the profile of the event. And, finally, the other thing is, we get to recognize local leaders and celebrate their accomplishments.”

That begins at 10 a.m. with what’s called the “Race Card Project.” More can be learned about that with a short video here and visit the site here.


For the rest of these events, a Zoom link will be provided under each category Monday morning. View everything listed in this story by clicking here.


At 1 p.m., a panel will discuss the experiences of some of the 14,000 refugees from Cuba in 1980 to go to Fort McCoy and await sponsorship from local individuals and families. That event will be online, but 30 people will be allowed to attend in person on a first come-first serve basis.

At 2, 3 and 4 p.m., there will be walking tours following the “Voices of La Crosse: Racial (In)Justice – A Tour of Black Experiences in Downtown La Crosse. Those begin from the Prayer Garden outside of Campus Ministry. More info on that can also be found here.

At 4 p.m. the La Crosse Historical Society hosts what’s called “The Enduring Families Project.” Four panelists will bring the project to life.

There are also three videos here of historical re-enactments of local historical icons.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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