Thousands of Wisconsin residents took part in service projects on Monday as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Some said they hope to keep the unity going the rest of the year, but others are skeptical.
Several hundred volunteers spent the day at Bay View High School in Milwaukee, painting murals and inspirational quotes on the walls and doing light carpentry. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., praised the volunteers for their sense of community, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“He said, 'An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity,'” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said she'll try to live up to King's words in the next few weeks, promising to vote to extend unemployment benefits and to raise the minimum wage. Baldwin then joined a small group painting a mural.
Others painting included Milwaukee resident Daytona Boxley. She said the service work at the high school fits King's vision.
“I feel like his vision was different people -- no matter race, ethnicity -- was just to come together and to serve,” Boxley said, “and this is one way where I feel like you see different types of people coming together for a greater cause than themselves.”
Boxley said she's optimistic that the cross-cultural unity could extend to more days of the year, but Milwaukeean Vince Toney, also painting at the school, was less hopeful.
“I still see, especially in Milwaukee, it being a segregated city. That's one thing that should change,” he said.
Toney said social segregation hurts the economy and keeps people from available jobs.