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Local UAW hosts annual Martin Luther King Jr. program Jan. 26

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Updated: March 27, 2013 2:12AM

KENOSHA — The United auto Workers (UAW) Local 72 Civil and Human Rights Committee will present the 31st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Program titled “Building Toward The Future” Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at UAW Local 72 Headquarters, 3615 Washington Road. UAW Local 72 was the first labor union to negotiate a paid day off in memory of Dr. King in 1981.

At this year’s program, the keynote speaker will be U.S. Congressman John Lewis, representative of Georgia’s 5th District. He is often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.” Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Congress.

Lewis has been called “the conscience of the U.S. Congress,” and Roll Call magazine said, “John Lewis ... is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.”

As a young boy in Pike County, Ala. he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.

As a student at Fisk University, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tenn. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South.

By 1963, Lewis was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards from imminent national and international institutions, including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom, the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence, the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Capital Award of the National Council of La Raza, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the President’s Medal of Georgetown University, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award, and the only John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage Award” for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Lewis will provide signings of his newest book, “Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change,” following the program.

Tickets are available at Local 72 headquarters. Ticket are $15 and $5 for children 12 years of age and younger. Call ahead for tickets at (262) 948-3381. For more information, call (262) 945-8632.

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