GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, but the celebration began early in Brown County.

This is the 27th year that the Brown County MLK Committee has hosted an MLK celebration. In 25 of those 27 years it’s been at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, something college officials say they are very proud of.

This year the theme was ‘The People’s March Continues.’

“It’s a unified common march towards the advancement of social justice towards moving to racial equality,” says Corey King who is co-chair of the Brown County MLK Committee.

At the ceremony, the MLK committee rewarded local students for their artwork, poems, and essays that they had created to express the ‘People’s March Continues’ theme of the celebration this year.

“The respect and dignity of all people is something that we should strive for every day,” said King.

The ceremony also featured the talents of the Washington Middle School choir. Students performed a number from their upcoming musical called ‘Once on this Island’ which tells the story of a girl who finds love on an island full of prejudice.

They also sang ‘We shall Overcome’ which became an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from or look like or act or sound like, everyone should come together,” said Julianna Williams, who is part of the choir.

The MLK Committee also recognized community members that pushed for social change over the last year. One of the winners was Ebiere Juliet Cole who spearheads leadership workshops in the community and in local educational institutions with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

A new award named after her will be given out at this event each year to a Brown County community member that makes contributions similar to the ones that she has made.

“It makes me feel great but when I saw my sons and my grandchildren here today I was like wow it’s a legacy I have passed it on to them,” shared Cole.

The hope is to inspire people to continue to work together to advance social justice. When asked what he thinks Martin Luther King Jr. assessment of the state of social justice in the United States today would be, Corey King said he thinks Dr. King would thank those that have helped make the country a more just place to live, but also point out that the country still has a long way to go.