The Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations on Friday celebrated two suburban leaders at an event remembering Martin Luther King Jr., two days after what would have been the slain civil rights leader's 85th birthday.
The Rev. Clyde Brooks, the commission's chairman, and Douglas K. Ray, CEO of Paddock Publications Inc., each were lauded at the commission's 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance and Celebration Dinner at the Chicago Marriott Northwest in Hoffman Estates.
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Brooks, a community organizer and retired pastor, was recognized for dedicating 50 years of his life to fighting for racial, cultural and gender equality. Brooks moved to Elk Grove Village in 1964 and said King, whom he met and spent time with in Chicago, inspired him to take up the cause. Today, it is the work of the unsung heros that also motivates Brooks.
"I'm inspired by the little Kings -- people who are working, who never see their name in the paper or on television, and are working dilligently to try to be a perfector," Brooks said. "Working with young people, helping those who are sick, helping the elderly -- that inspires me."
Ray, also publisher, chairman and president of Paddock Publications Inc., received the commission's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Excellence in Leadership for the company's work reflecting suburban diversity though the Daily Herald. Paddock Publications owns both the Daily Herald and Reflejos, a bilingual newspaper that spotlights local Latino achievements.
"I'm happy to receive this recognition, but you should know that this has much less to do with me and everything to do with the Daily Herald," Ray said. "This paper is many things. And as it relates to this changing community, the Daily Herald, I think, can be proud of the long service that it has provided in this context."
The commission chose Ray from a list of 19 nominees in the corporate world, Brooks said. The commission, a nonprofit organization, offers programs and services to address conflicts across racial and cultural lines. It also secures the resources necessary to resolve human relations issues.
Brooks, who also has given talks on diversity to Daily Herald employees, recognized Ray for being accessible to the commission and for addressing the changes taking place in the suburbs.
"The newspaper has grown under Doug's leadership to address the diversity of the area it serves, and we applaud him for leading the Daily Herald in that direction," Brooks said.
Friday's dinner attracted about 250 people from the state's faith, education, community and corporate circles. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth gave the keynote address.
Also recognized at the dinner were the Rev. Nathaniel Edmond, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Elgin; William McLeod, the mayor of Hoffman Estates; and Billie D. Roth, village president of Streamwood.
Friday's dinner was one of two the commission will have this month to honor King.
The next celebration, its 46th annual dinner, will honor Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd, for being the first woman to hold that position at the company.
That event is scheduled for Jan. 25 at the Hilton Chicago.