EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday to remember the life of the iconic civil rights leader and look at the history of the movement and where it goes from here.
In the past year, protests and demonstrations forced the country to take a hard look at equality with activists aiming for a more equitable society, encouraging conversations on race relations.
On Monday, Uniting Bridges and UW-Eau Claire continued those conversations through a virtual Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance celebration.
"We hope to bring some disparate groups together. We hope to bring a little peace and to uplift some people's spirits after a pretty frightening two-and-a-half weeks of the beginning of 2021," said Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, UW-Eau Claire history professor.
Some panels focused on the unfortunate history of racial inequality.
Chippewa Falls High School social studies teacher John Kinville spoke on a panel about the history of the Ku Klux Klan in the Chippewa Valley which he said had 42 female members who eventually walked away from the group.
"Each generation is faced with their own unique sets of circumstances in which we're faced with choices, choices about how we're going to treat each other, choices about what things we're going to believe and where we're going to get our information," Kinville said.
Panelists said movements like Black Lives Matter are a continuation of the civil rights movement championed by King decades ago.
"And like Martin Luther King, there were people who disapproved of them and disapproved of their tactics," Ducksworth-Lawton said. "Martin Luther King had more than a 75% disapproval rating in the United States when he was assassinated."
Ducksworth-Lawton said those connections are why it is important to not forget our history.
"This history is accurate and when we ignore it, it allows people to pull the same things over again," she said.