MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The official statewide celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day took place at Macalester College in St. Paul.

It started with a youth rally and then hundreds of people gathered on campus before the program started–marching in, as a group.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s council on the holiday hosts this annual event.

It is largely about honoring local heroes who are making our communities in Minnesota better.

More than 46 years after his death, the room was filled with people King would have been so proud of: the Grammy Award-winning gospel group, Sounds of Blackness; the Harvard and Yale-educated, African-American state supreme court justice, Wilhelmina Wright.

“The question of, Where do we go from here? is no easier to answer today than it was when Dr. King posed it nearly 50 years ago,” Wright said.

The first African American elected as a county commissioner in Minnesota, Toni Carter of Ramsey County, received a lifetime achievement award.

“We stand together for we know that our lives truly begin to end, the day we are silent about the things that matter,” Carter said. “We were taught that by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King.”

Awards for distinguished service went to Hennepin County District Court Judge Pamela Alexander, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi,  Luz Maria Frias of the Minneapolis Foundation, Galinda Goss-Kuehn of the Deaf Adult Basic Education Program for Communications Services for the Deaf and Lori Saroya, the founder of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

The MLK Day council announced a new community service project in honor of Dr. King.

It is taking place this Friday at Second Harvest Heartland in St. Paul.

From 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the public is invited to help sort and pack food.

Members of the Black Lives Matters group staged a brief die-in during the program.

A couple dozen of them stood up while some of Minnesota’s members of Congress were speaking.

(credit: Black Lives Matter)

(credit: Black Lives Matter)

They carried signs, lifted one arm in the air and then about half of them lay down in front of the stage for about five minutes.

They were silent and didn’t try to interrupt any of the speakers before leaving.

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