MADISON (WKOW) -- A celebration of words, hope, and music at the Overture Center Monday night, as hundreds of people came to honor the life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
As one speaker put it, the civil rights movement wouldn't have happened without music.
From rousing to reflective, there were plenty of inspirational notes that night.
The program began with one of King's favorite spiritual melodies, "How Great Thou Art."
In between the strains of the Martin Luther King Junior Choir, three people were singled out for an award named for civil rights leader himself.
Student Jarrel Montgomery, band leader James Latimer, and Madison Alder Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, promised to continue to dream, albeit a dream that's changing -- not only to achieve race equality, but one that's grown to include gender, economic status, religion, sexuality.
"The dream of 2010 is a nation where marriage is about love between two people, not about bigotry... a nation in which we all have access to health care," Bidar-Sielaff said.
While the goals seem lofty, keynote speaker Dorothy Cotton reminded everyone, the goal of racial equality seemed lofty too, when she stood by Martin Luther King's Jr's side during the turbulent civil rights campaign of the 1960's.
Too often, Cotton said, Americans become complacent. Achieving real social change, she said, takes a concerted effort.
"Can you imagine that we can go thru so much of the time we're given on the planet, and discover rather late that we haven't been truly living?" she asked the crowd.
"Let us continue to focus on a common dream," Bidar-Sielaff said. "A community in which equality, justice and peace reign."
Cotton joked, she's one of the few people still living, who actively worked side by side with King.
Cotton was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, which helped organize the March on Washington in 1963 -- where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.