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‘Choose love:’ Community leaders, Milwaukee youth honor Dr. King at annual MLK Day breakfast

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast

MILWAUKEE -- In keeping Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message alive, community leaders gathered on Monday, Jan. 21 for one of the largest MLK Day events in the state.

"Things can change. I think people who live in the past should think about moving on. Today we have to fix this problem," said Lahli Coleman, second-grader, Milwaukee College Prep School.

Hosted by the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee at the Italian Community Center, hundreds looked to Coleman for words of inspiration.

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes

"The next governor may be in this room. The next U.S. senator. The next president may even be in this room -- one of the young people awarded for their talents," said Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.

During the event, three students, including Coleman, were honored for their interpretation of Dr. King's message.

"Hate is like carrying around a dark cloud, and no one wants to be next to you because they don't want to get rained on," said Coleman.

Coleman's words echoed what community leaders said they envision for Milwaukee's future -- and why Dr. King's vision must be remain in view.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast

"We want to make sure that these children actually have a dream, because too often, they lack positive examples and role models," said Barnes. "This is about changing more than what's possible. We want to change what's expected for our young people growing up in the City of Milwaukee."

"Dr. King's life and message were lessons that are important for everybody. Not just in the 1950s and 60s when Dr. King was active, but even today in contemporary America," said Milwaukee Alderman Cavalier Johnson.

King would be 90 years old now. Still, leaders said the fight to make him proud continues.

"We need to hold ourselves accountable -- and all community leaders -- to make sure we're doing our part," said Carrie Wall, YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee president and CEO.

"Let the sun shine in. Choose love," said Coleman.

Following the breakfast celebration, the YMCA also hosted an MLK Day event for kids called "Keeping the Dream Alive."

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