UPDATE: Widow of civil rights leader slams Gov. Walker policies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Widow of civil rights leader slams policies of Gov. Walker


MADISON (WKOW) -- At the State Capitol, the 33rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration turned into an indictment of Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin).

Father James Groppi was a firebrand Catholic priest who led civil rights marches throughout Milwaukee in the late 1960s, in a successful attempt to end housing discrimination in the city.

On Monday his widow, whom he married after leaving the priesthood, created controversy by attacking Governor Walker's policies.

For most of the two-plus hour celebration, it was a day full of praise and tribute to Dr. King.

Freddie Carter, a student at Madison's Wright Middle School, even read an excerpt from Dr. King's most famous speech.

"I have a dream, that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal," recited Carter.

But in the middle of the celebration, Dr. Margaret Rozga turned her attention on an unsuspecting Governor Walker.

"As a person who remembers that Martin Luther King was killed while he was working to organize sanitation workers, I know that anyone who works to curtail union rights is not in the tradition of Martin Luther King," said Dr. Rozga.

Accepting an award on behalf her late husband Father James Groppi, Dr. Rozga never mentioned the Governor by name.

But with him sitting just over her left shoulder, she attacked not only Act 10, but also the Voter ID law and the mining bill, all of which Gov. Walker has championed in the past two years.

"And as someone who is a member of family that loves Wisconsin's natural resources, I know that if you endanger those resources, you are not standing with us," said Dr. Rozga.

While slow to rise to Dr. Rozga's standing ovation, Gov. Walker made no mention of her comments when proclaiming it Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Day in Wisconsin.

Instead, he chose to use these words from Dr. King himself.

"Where he talked about darkness doesn't drive out darkness, only light does that.  And hatred doesn't drive out hate, only love can do that," said Gov. Walker.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) was the target of some unexpected derision at a ceremony to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the State Capitol.

The widow of Father James Groppi, a leading figure in the Milwaukee civil rights movement of the 1960s, criticized many of Gov. Walker's policies in accepting an award on her late husband's behalf.

Without directly referencing Gov. Walker by name, Dr. Margaret Rozga said that anyone who stands in favor of curtailing the collective bargaining rights of workers or suppressing people's right to vote, "doesn't stand with us."

Dr. Rozga was making a thinly veiled reference to Wisconsin Act 10 and the Photo ID law, both championed by Gov. Walker.

Dr. Rozga's statements received loud cheers and applause from the audience, while Gov. Walker sat stoically just a few feet behind her.

The Governor spoke later in the ceremony to proclaim it Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Wisconsin.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann as at today's ceremony and will have a full report on 27 News at 5 and 6.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker plans to participate in a pair of events marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Wisconsin.

Walker is to start Monday at the annual Milwaukee YMCA Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast.

Walker will be in the Capitol over the noon hour to participate in the state's 33rd annual tribute and ceremony honoring King.

The guest speaker is journalist and author John W. Fountain.

The event also features performances from Milwaukee's Latino Arts Strings program, Ho-Chunk Native American Drum and Dance Ensemble, Malcolm Williams and the Voices of Great Faith and Madison Bagpipers.

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