MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee and Atlanta are the only cities to have celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day since it was established in 1984. The Marcus Center has hosted the celebration in Milwaukee every year.
The annual celebration is a showcase of the talent of Milwaukee's youth -- speech writers and art contest winners from grades K-12.
"We shall overcome, and with our positive thinking and love, we will overcome," Imajyne Robertson-Hodges from Elm Creative Arts said.
The Marcus Center tradition is as old as the holiday itself.
"We've hosted the event for 33 years, for all of the time it's been in Milwaukee, and we're really proud of that," Paul Mathews, president of the Marcus Center said.
Miranda Brown, a senior at Eastbrook Academy won first place in the speech category. Every speech followed the theme: "We shall overcome."
"I think just being able to share a story, not really knowing if it relates to someone in the audience, but if it does, it can touch them and can help them in their situation," Brown said.
Speech winners shared the stage with artists like cellist Malik Johnson and vocalist Kaprice Maxwell.
"The way these young people are stepping forward, honoring his tradition, embracing diversity is really hope and inspiration for us as adults," Mathews said.
Nearly 50 students were recognized during the MLK event.
More than 4,000 students entered the writing and speech competitions this year.