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On Monday, Jan. 16, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and greater Oshkosh communities will come together at the 17th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration, an annual event remembering the legacy of a man who fought for unity.

Registration for the celebration will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the UW Oshkosh Reeve Memorial Union ballroom followed by dinner and an awards program at 5 p.m. Tickets for the event are $20 per person.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorates the birthday of King and has been designated as a federal legal holiday since 1994.

Pamela Lassiter, director of Equity and Affirmative Action at UW Oshkosh, said the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration creates an opportunity to emphasize community efforts built on the beliefs of King.

“The goal of the celebration is stay true and highlight the essay contest winners, continue to recognize and honor service organizations and select a person or organization in the community,” Lassiter said.

The program held during the celebration will include the presentation of several awards, including the Community Service Award, the Martin Luther King Jr. Awards,  Honored Service Organizations Awards and the unveiling of the Barbara Jordan, Black Heritage Stamp.

“Barbara Jordan was one of the most respected and influential American politicians of the 20th Century,” Lassiter said. “She captured the attention and admiration of the nation with her intelligence and integrity, eloquent oratory, ardent defense of the Constitution and staunch advocacy of equal rights for all American citizens.”

The celebration will also spotlight several Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest winners from area K-12 schools. This year’s winners are: Brittany Diane Tracey, Sarah Beth Schuessler and Lyle Plueddeman, all from Oshkosh North High School; Alison Voss, Jason Dickerson and Brody Oreske, all from Perry Tipler Middle School and Ariana Jiricka, Oakwood Elementary School; Jenna Kiraly, Carl Traeger Elementary School; and Evan Clark, Webster Stanley Elementary School.

The evening will also feature a special door-prize drawing for a Green Bay Packers 2010 team-autographed football.

Lassiter said she hopes people will come together for the celebration “To recognize and honor a man who gave his life so that we could come together collectively for one night, regardless of the color of our skin, and celebrate how his dream is still alive and how the community has worked to continue his legacy.”

Learn more and register: