This month, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 84.
Communities throughout the Fox Valley area are pulling together to hold celebrations of his life, and to honor his legacy -- with a special focus on community service.
• Aurora University alumnus the Rev. Martin A. McMickle, known for his commitment to social justice and betterment of the human condition, joins the university's celebration at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Crimi Auditorium at the Institute for Collaboration, 407 S. Calumet Ave., Aurora. Includes a concert. Free. Register: (630) 844-4924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The MLK Planning Committee and the city of Aurora will hold a special tribute honoring the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at East Aurora High School, 500 Tomcat Lane.
Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of Saint Sabina's Parish in Chicago, will be the special guest speaker.
The youth-focused evening will include performances from Aurora high school students and local choirs, dance and professional actors. Doors open at 6 p.m. Info: www.sd129.org.
The Rev. Calvin Morris will keynote the fourth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 21. His topic will be "One Nation Indivisible: Where Do We Go From Here." In addition to prayers, readings, and blessings from a variety of local faith traditions, there will be video footage of Dr. King and music by Lia Nicine McCoo. The breakfast will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at D'Andrea Banquets, 4419 Route 14 in Crystal Lake. It is sponsored by FaithBridge, a consortium of local faith communities. Breakfast tickets are $20 ($15 for teens) for a tasty and ample vegetarian buffet and program.
Morris retired last year after 14 years as the executive director of the Community Renewal Society of Chicago. He met the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. when came to Chicago in 1967 to complete his PhD. Due to Jackson's influence, he ended up as associate director of Operation Bread Basket (now known as Rainbow Push).
Some years later, Morris returned to Boston with his wife and two children, to begin work on that Ph.D. and taught in the Afro America Studies program at Simmons College. From Boston, Morris went to the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta where he served as the executive director. He has also served as professor and academic dean and vice president at the Interdenominational Theological Centers in Atlanta; and as associate professor of pastoral theology and director of the Ministries to Church and Society Program at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
FaithBridge honors Dr. King because his teachings were inclusive. He once wrote of the "world house" of humanity as a long-separated family who had inherited a single house and now needs to learn to live together respectfully in it. The Rev. Anne Muelleman of the Center for Spiritual Evolution joined the group because it "fosters that same peace and understanding between faith traditions and cultures."
Tickets are available at the Center for Spiritual Evolution in Cary, Bethany Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake, First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, the Blue Lotus Temple in Woodstock, the McHenry County Jewish Congregation in Ridgefield, the Crystal Lake Ridgefield Presbyterian Church, the Universal Unitarian Church of Woodstock, the American Muslim Community Organization in Algonquin, and the Department of Mission and Spiritual Care at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington.
Elgin's 28th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration will take place on the weekend of Jan. 19-21, celebrating his life, actions and dreams.
Sponsored by the Elgin Human Relations Commission along with the yearlong efforts of the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee, the 2013 celebration will begin with a prayer breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 19, and culminate with a day of service and learning on Monday, Jan. 21.
Saturday, Jan. 19: The prayer breakfast will be held at the Business Conference Center at Elgin Community College, Building K, 1700 Spartan Drive. Doors open at 8 a.m. Various community organizations will be featuring their wares. The prayer breakfast will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m.
The keynote speaker will be motivational speaker Dan Duster, who is an expert in the area of motivation and personal achievement. As the great-grandson of Ida B. Wells, he speaks about her struggles and triumphs to motivate audiences to overcome the obstacles we face today. Also as part of the program, winners of the Humanitarian Awards will be announced and presented with plaques.
Tickets for the prayer breakfast are $15 and can be obtained at city hall, 150 Dexter Court. Order forms can be downloaded online at www.cityofelgin.org/MLK and mailed to the city at 150 Dexter Court, Elgin, IL 60120. Tickets are also available from committee members or by calling (847) 931-5667.
Sunday, Jan. 20: The MLK Public Program begins at 4 p.m. at the Second Baptist Church, 1280 Summit St. in Elgin. Music will be provided by the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Choir and other musical performances. The winner of the 2011 Art and Essay contest will be announced and Scholarship Award winners will be presented their awards. The public program is free and open to the general public.
Monday, Jan. 21: On Monday afternoon, the second annual Youth Leadership Conference will take place at The Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way. The program is designed to reach middle to high school age students with Rev. King's message of leadership and community service.
Adult leaders and students must register in advance for the conference, which will feature guest speakers and workshops on subjects relating to the messages taught by Rev. King. More information about the conference can be found on the city website at www.cityofelgin.org/MLK or call Dianha Ortega-Ehreth at (847) 214-6910.
Food drive: As part of Elgin's 28th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, the MLK Committee is hosting its second annual communitywide food drive.
Food that is collected between now and Jan. 20 will be distributed to local food pantries to provide much needed food through the winter months, when the pantries frequently have severe shortages.
Food can be donated at all local Elgin and South Elgin Jewel Stores, Elgin Fresh Markets, Butera Food Stores and Walgreen Drug stores. In addition, food can be dropped off at local churches, which are also collecting food from members and residents or at city hall.
Joe Wars, MLK Committee member organizing the food drive, is hopeful that the community will rally behind the cause.
"We hope to see an even bigger response than last year," Wars said.
If you have questions or want to volunteer, contact Wars at (847) 742-2228 or email@example.com.
Last year, more than 13,000 pounds of food was collected and distributed on Martin Luther King weekend by local volunteers, including area teens using Martin Luther King Day as a day of service to the community. This year's goal is to collect eight tons of food. Teens this year will again be working on Monday morning, Jan. 21, sorting and distributing food. They also will participate in the Monday service and leadership conference at The Centre of Elgin. Any groups interested in participating should contact Dianha Ortega-Ehreth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend of events is sponsored by the Elgin Human Relations Commission along with the yearlong efforts of the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee.
Members of the MLK Planning Committee include: co-chairs Shaan Jones and Rose Reinert, Danise Habun, Joe Wars, Janice Hare, Rene Neal, Algawan Dussard, Albert McCloud, Aloun Khotisene, and Dianha Ortega-Ehreth and Phillip Campbell.
For information on the events, visit www.cityofelgin.org/mlk or contact the city of Elgin at (847) 931-5667.
The Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations' 12th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance and Celebration Dinner on Friday, Jan. 18, will take a look at area communities and think about some of the social, educational and economic needs it can help address.
"It's just a reminder of where we've been and where we need to go," said the Rev. Clyde Brooks, who serves as chairman for the commission.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Stonegate Conference and Banquet Center, 2401 W. Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates.
Toni Carter, former deputy mayor for Hanover Park and human resources consultant for Motorola Solutions, will be the dinner speaker. Carter and Motorola will be honored for their devotion to workforce diversity. Brooks said.
Carter is one of three honorees. The other two are civil rights attorney Kay Hoogland and the Sears Holding Company and its vice president for human resources, Sherry Nolan-Schultz.
Music will be provided by the Sears Gospel Choir and the Rev. Nathaniel Edmond of the Second Baptist Church of Elgin will be the master of ceremonies, Brooks said.
A second dinner celebrating King's work will be hosted by the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations in Chicago at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. To register for either event, call (630) 771-1707 or visit icdhr.com.