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Viterbo marks King holiday with community celebration



Dr. Andre E. Johnson speaks at Viterbo University's Fine Arts Center on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, Jan. 16, 2023. (Screenshot: Viterbo University Reinhart Institute for Ethics)

Through songs and speeches, La Crosse honors the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., on his national holiday.

Viterbo University’s annual King Day celebration took place Monday night at the Fine Arts Center.

Dr. Andre Johnson, from the University of Memphis, returned to La Crosse for the event.

Johnson was the keynote speaker at Viterbo 10 years ago as well. He noted some irony in how King’s message is now received in some parts of the U.S.

“What I find baffling today, is that in some states, mentioning King calling America racist, or saying that racism is a problem in America, can land you into some trouble,” Johnson said.

Shaundel Spivey, who recently played Dr. King in a Weber Center stage production, opened the program speaking as King, telling the Viterbo audience of the “promised land” that is “so close, yet so far away.”

Organizers of the event chose community activist Bridget Todd Robbins to receive this year’s MLK leadership award. Todd Robbins said she strives to create opportunities to those who don’t have a voice in the community.

A student leadership award was given to Logan High School sophomore Na’ziah Mclaurin, who moved to La Crosse with her family from the South during her freshman year.

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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