BELLEVILLE — Belleville residents and students gathered Monday morning at Lindenwood University-Belleville to discuss how they can improve the city in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The panel of college and high school students gave input on how to help youths be active in the community, deter crime and keep students in Belleville after they graduate.
Ideas from the panelists and attendees will be incorporated into the city of Belleville's new 20-year comprehensive plan, which is being drafted this year.
The fourth annuaal MLK Day of Observance and Service Community Conversation Cafe Forum was organized by the 17th Street Corridor Neighborhood Association.
Professor Ashley Pollock, director of Academic Student Success and Retention & adjunct professor of history, moderated the event focused on the topic, "If I could change the community."
Pollock talked about Martin Luther King Jr.'s civic duty and how his efforts were intergenerational, across churches of different denominations and beyond city boundaries.
William G. Ford, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, said he wanted to hear what young people in Belleville had to say about current issues in the city.
Ford urged everyone to demonstrate leadership by getting involved.
"There's no shame in realizing what issues we have to address," Ford said. "Get involved... This city belongs to you."