Political, religious, business and education leaders from the suburbs gathered Friday to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for a 12th consecutive year.
The remembrance and celebration dinner was hosted by the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations at the Stonegate Conference and Banquet Center in Hoffman Estates.
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More than 200 people attended the event, including Hoffman Estates Mayor William McLeod and other village officials, the Rev. Nathaniel Edmond of Second Baptist Church of Elgin, the Rev. James Wilson of Barrington United Methodist Church, Elgin Community College President David Sam and Harper College President Ken Ender. Some groups in attendance included the diversity club from Stevenson High School and Sisters of the Living Word. The Sears Holding Gospel Choir also performed.
"We're here to celebrate the 84th birthday of Dr. King and also to salute giants -- companies and individuals that we believe are making a difference, breaking down barriers of gender and race and cultural barriers that exist," said the Rev. Clyde Brooks, president of the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations. "Life has improved, society has improved, and it's because of people like this."
Three women were honored at the event. They were keynote speaker Toni Carter, former deputy mayor for Hanover Park and human resources consultant for Motorola Solutions, civil rights attorney Kay Hoogland of Long Grove, and Sherry Nolan-Schultz, vice president for human resources at Sears Holding Co. and Highland Park resident.
"There's a lot of activities, good things going on, and we ought to be very happy about America," Brooks said.
"This is America at it's best, as you look around (the room)."