On MLK Day, UWM community chooses ‘a day on, not a day off’

Students, faculty and staff – along with 31 UW-Milwaukee alumni and family members – spent Monday at Milwaukee’s Vincent High School participating in Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

MLK Day of Service is a nationally recognized service day with numerous volunteer events happening throughout the United States on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Occurring on the third Monday in January, MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a service day – “a day on, not a day off.”

In Milwaukee, City Year was the main organizer of the events, which draw volunteers from local schools, nonprofits and businesses.

For the past six years, UWM’s Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research has recruited 30 to 40 people for the day. Individuals and groups participated, including the Student Housing Administrative Council, the African American Faculty and Staff Council and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

“Martin Luther King Jr. has always been one of my favorite historical people,” sophomore Maddy Routten said. “I think what he stood for is inspiring to not only myself, but everyone else.” Routten, an international relations major, volunteered with the housing council.

At Vincent High School, volunteers painted murals of inspirational images of books and quotes from civil rights activists such as Vel Phillips, the first African-American judge in Wisconsin. She was also the first woman and African American in the nation to be elected to executive office in state government as well as a lecturer at UWM.

Volunteers also painted pictures of other civil rights activists, such as Nelson Mandela.

“I love doing these murals of the books,” Tamara Alexander said. “A lot of kids don’t know about these books, so they can read up on them and get to know their history.” A marketing major, Alexander volunteered with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

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