King’s dream remembered in annual event
What Packer game?
Saturday afternoon, Blackhawk Technical College’s cafeteria was filled with Beloit and Janesville city officials, state and local politicians and plenty of regular folks who came together to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
About 350 people attended the event, which has become a yearly tradition.
This year the program featured performances by the Beloit Janesville Symphony, the Beloit Community Choir and a variety of other groups.
“Who says there’s a Packer game on today?” UAW Local 95 President and state Rep. Mike Sheridan asked the crowd gathered during his opening remarks.
A lot has changed since last year’s King commemoration, and Sheridan paid tribute to those changes.
“I’ve had a chance to experience those changes in the past year, in the past month and the past week, and I think Dr. King would be proud,” Sheridan said. “Barack Obama could be our next president. A woman could be our next president. A Hispanic, Bill Richardson, just dropped out of the race.”
The event’s keynote speaker, the Rev. Samuel Bradford of Bethel African Methodist Church in Beloit, acknowledged those changes, as well.
“Things are changing,” Bradford said. “They’re not the same as they were 20 years ago.”
Now that people recognize that “change is in the air,” people should act, he said.
"Are you registered to vote? Young people, ask your parents if they are registered to vote,” Bradford said. “Then go to the polls, make your vote count. Make your lives count.”
Bradford said he remembered his youth in southern Illinois, when he and his family weren’t even able to sit at a lunch counter at the local drug store.
“We’ve been through some cold, dark days,” Bradford said.
Now people have a chance to “come together, to walk together.”
“I believe we can sit down at a table together, black and white,” Bradford said. “We’re not afraid of each other.”
Several people were honored for their community work for peace, justice and racial equality.
-- Ed Timmer, a former Janesville Parker High School teacher, won the YWCA Peace Award.
-- Wanda Sloan, diversity specialist at Blackhawk Technical College, won the Martin Luther King Service Award.
-- Katherine Conover, teacher at the Janesville International School, won the Martin Luther King Service Award, as well.