Local events help keep slain civil rights leader’s legacy alive
By Susan Frick Carlman email@example.com January 17, 2013 3:32PM
NccColumn-NAP-010412 North Central College President Arlo Schilling greets Martin Luther King Jr. when the civil rights leader visited Naperville and spoke in Pfeiffer Hall in 1960. | Photo courtesy of North Central College
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:51PM
More than a half century has lapsed since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in Pfeiffer Hall on the North Central College campus in Naperville. Titled “Stride Toward Freedom,” King’s 1960 address laid out the challenges then facing the black community. It was the dawn of a turbulent decade that saw three bus loads of North Central students travel to Selma, Ala., to take part in one of the 1965 civil rights marches that were launched there.
King was gunned down at a Memphis motel in 1968, but his spirit continues to thrive on the Naperville campus and elsewhere in the area.
Public and private school students will have the day off Monday in commemoration of the anniversary of King’s birth, since 1986 observed as a federal holiday on the third Monday in January. North Central and Benedictine University are among the local organizations planning events to commemorate the occasion with a variety of activities and events.
3 p.m. - North Central College, Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville
The Chicago Sinfonietta will present a varied program marrying two 20th-century mainstays with music of African and African-American lineage during its annual tribute to King’s memory. The program will open with a performance by the acclaimed Mosaic Choir from Waubonsie Valley High School.
“Dr. King’s tribute is really about honoring a legacy of bridging cultures and generations and bringing people together,” said Mei-Ann Chen, in her second season as the Sinfonietta’s music director. “That’s exactly what the Sinfonietta’s mission has been about, so it makes sense for us to continue to champion this wonderful tribute.”
Joining the orchestra will be two nationally known guest soloists — bass-baritone Eric Owens and Anthony McGill, principal clarinet for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York City.
Priced at $50 and $40, and $10 for children and students, tickets can be purchased by calling the North Central College box office at 630-637-7469 or online at northcentralcollege.edu/show.
7 a.m. — North Central College, Harold and Eva White Activities Center, 325 E. Benton Ave., Naperville
The college’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week prayer breakfast will be served in the Fireside Lounge and Banquet Hall. Karl Brooks, former associate dean of students and a 1990 graduate of North Central and now dean of students at Joliet Junior College, will be the keynote speaker at the invitation-only gathering.
8 a.m. — Benedictine University, Krasa Student Center, 5700 College Road, Lisle
Retired U.S. Army Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a military pioneer, will be the featured speaker at the 18th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. The event is cohosted by Benedictine and College of DuPage. Illinois’ first homeland security adviser and the first woman to fill an array of roles in the military before her retirement, Morgenthaler served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia, conducted evacuation operations for Kosovar refugees and oversaw recovery work after the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco. A Des Plaines resident, she was the 2008 Democratic nominee for Illinois’ 6th congressional district, losing the race to incumbent Wheaton Republican Peter Roskam. Morgenthaler earned a Bronze Star for her leadership in Iraq in 2004, and the Legion of Merit for her 30 years of Army service.
Attended by more than 500 people every year, the breakfast is one of the largest events of its kind in the state. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund at both sponsoring schools. Tickets are in limited quantity and cost $25 in advance or $30 at the door, if available. For more information, call 630-942-4000 or go to www.cod.edu/mlk.
Also planned at Benedictine in observance of the King holiday are an assortment of varied service opportunities, including a blood drive for the American Red Cross; valentines for veterans; letters to active troops; reading to vets with vision impairments; fleece blankets for Advocate Hospice and Ronald McDonald House; Build-A-Bear for Ronald McDonald House; room decorations for hospital patients and bird houses for seniors; organizing birthday bags for kids whose families are served by local food pantries; and packing backpacks with food for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. For more information, call Joan Henehan at 630-829-6617 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
5 p.m. — North Central College, Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville
Actor, author and philanthropist Hill Harper will discuss “Being an Active Architect of Your Own Life.” Harper currently portrays coroner Sheldon Hawkes in the CBS crime drama “CSI: NY” and has written four well-received nonfiction books. He founded the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, which provides scholarships, grants and mentors for youth. Harper also had a prominent role in the 1998 film “He Got Game,” which was written and directed by Spike Lee, North Central’s keynote speaker during Martin Luther King week at North Central in 2011.
7 p.m. — North Central College, The Union, 129 W. Benton Ave., Naperville
Award-winning poet and actor Carlos Andres Gomez will be among those featured during the college’s annual MLK Week poetry slam. Students also will perform. Tickets cost $10 in advance and $12 at the door. More details can be found by calling 630-637-7469 or visiting northcentralcollege.edu/showtix.
Saturday, Jan. 26
7 p.m. — North Central College, Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville
Dexter Walker and Zion Movement Chorale will headline the final event of the week, North Central’s 25th annual Gospel Extravaganza. The college’s Voices of Praise gospel choir, joined by alumni of the vocal ensemble, will also perform, in addition to the Wheaton College Gospel Choir, Voices of Praise gospel choir from the DuPage African Methodist Church in Lisle, and dancer-choreographer Glorielle Williams. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Call 630-637-7469.
or online at northcentralcollege.edu/show.