Breaking News Bar
updated: 1/17/2014 10:58 AM

'Rooftop pastor' to speak at DuPage Dr. Martin Luther King celebration

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Pastor Corey Brooks from New Beginnings Church in Chicago will speak Monday, Jan. 20, at DuPage County's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

       Pastor Corey Brooks from New Beginnings Church in Chicago will speak Monday, Jan. 20, at DuPage County's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer, JANUARY 2013

  • The DuPage County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will take place in Elmhurst College's Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, where a plaque commemorates an address he gave there on July 8, 1966.

      The DuPage County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will take place in Elmhurst College's Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, where a plaque commemorates an address he gave there on July 8, 1966.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Speakers at the DuPage County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Monday, Jan. 20, will discuss King's legacy and how he continues to inspire civil rights leaders.

      Speakers at the DuPage County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Monday, Jan. 20, will discuss King's legacy and how he continues to inspire civil rights leaders.
    Courtesy of Bernard J. Kleina

 
 

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led marches, made speeches and helped change attitudes toward civil rights in America. The Rev. Corey B. Brooks Sr. has lived on a rooftop for 94 days in winter and walked across the country in an effort to change his neighborhood in Chicago.

Brooks will be the keynote speaker in the annual DuPage County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, in Hammerschmidt Chapel at Elmhurst College, 190 Prospect Ave., Elmhurst.

Wheaton resident Ellen Bintz Meuch, a member of the committee planning the event, said that in the past organizers have brought in keynote speakers from as far away as California but this year decided to take a different approach.

"We wanted someone local who was high-profile to bring more people," she said.

Brooks, the founding pastor of New Beginnings Church on Chicago's South Side, gained national attention as the "rooftop pastor" when he spent 94 days during the winter of 2011-12 living in a tent on the roof of abandoned motel in the Woodlawn neighborhood. He wanted to raise $450,000 to tear down the motel that once had been home to prostitutes, drug addicts and criminals and replace it with a community center. He succeeded in gaining the funds to demolish the motel and then in 2012 embarked on a walk across America to raise money to build the community center.

Brooks said he is still far short of the $20 million he estimates is needed to construct the center, but his efforts continue. He started Project HOOD (Helping Others Obtain Destiny) to give young people an alternative to life on the streets and combat the problems of social, economic, educational and spiritual deprivation.

Brooks said King has served as a role model for him.

"Dr. Martin Luther King has always been one of my inspirations. I read a lot of his writings," he said.

The Rev. Kevin Williams, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church of Wheaton and co-chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King celebration, said Brooks exhibits the spirit of inclusion and advocacy that King exemplified.

"He's a fearless leader," Williams said.

Williams said DuPage County's King celebration started at Second Baptist Church in Wheaton 23 years ago.

"Our key is really to keep history alive and to celebrate his successes and to celebrate the potential of leaders of the future," Williams said. "Dr. King advocated for everyone."

Meuch said the King celebration at Elmhurst College, one of several in the Western suburbs, normally draws about 300 people.

"We're really wanting to increase the number of people and diversify the audience," she said. "People think this is an event for the African-American community. It's not. It's for the whole community to bring everyone together."

Speakers this year include several pastors and Rabbi Abraham Joshu Weikersheimer of Congregation Beth Shalom in Naperville. Music will be provided by the worship team of New Beginnings Church in Chicago and the choir of Second Baptist Church in Wheaton.

The ceremony also includes the presentation of $500 scholarships to high school students who demonstrate community concern. Meuch's daughter, Sophia, a past scholarship winner and now part of Teach for America in Chicago, will speak.

Meuch said she has been involved in helping to organize the Dr. Martin Luther King celebration for 10 years.

"I'm a devotee of Dr. King for many reasons, but one of them is the model he created for us of nonviolence." Meuch said. "I think there is so much we can learn from him."

For information on the DuPage County Dr. Martin Luther King celebration at Elmhurst College, see dupagemlk.org.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.