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.
Other events honoring KingŸ "King and Mandela: Legacy of Peace," a tribute to late civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at Aurora University's Crimi Auditorium, 407 S. Calumet Ave., Aurora. Free; advance registration required. Info: (630) 844-4924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ÿ The 13th annual Dr. King Remembrance and Celebration Dinner Friday, Jan. 17, at the Northwest Chicago Marriott Hotel in Hoffman Estates. The event will honor the 85th birthday of King and his contributions. Also honored will be Daily Herald Publisher Doug Ray, for his more than 40 years of leadership in the suburban business community. More than 400 community and business leaders and residents are expected to attend. A reception begins at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets: $55. Info: (630) 771-1707, email@example.com or icdhr.com.
Ÿ The city of Elgin's Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast will be 8:30 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at Elgin Community College's University and Business Center, Building E, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin. Speaker Keyairra Calvin is a December graduate who was president of the student group United Students of All Cultures and grand marshal for Elgin's iFest summer festival in 2012. Tickets: $15 for adults, $7.50 for children younger than 13; available at Elgin city hall, 150 Dexter Court.
Ÿ The Chicago Sinfonietta performs a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., led by Mei-Ann Chen with help from Nicole Cash and soprano Elizabeth Norman, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, in North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. Tickets: $54 and $42, $10 for children and students. Info: (630) 637-7469 or northcentralcollege.edu/showtix.
Ÿ A celebration of King's life begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, at the Hemmens, 45 Symphony Way, featuring speaker Orlando Ceaser, CEO of Watch Wells Communications. Performances include Elgin's community choir, the Youth Dancers of Elgin and a dramatic presentation of King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Free.
Ÿ Plemon T. El-Amin, Imam Emeritus of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, one of the largest and most progressive mosques in the United States, is keynote speaker at the fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Interfaith Prayer Breakfast from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at D'Andrea Banquets, 4419 Route 14, Crystal Lake. His topic will be "The Internationalism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." Tickets: $20 for adults, $25 for students; available at the door or in advance through FaithBridge congregations.
Ÿ The 19th annual the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast hosted by Benedictine University and College of DuPage is from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20, on the second floor of the Krasa Student Center at Benedictine University, 5700 College Road, Lisle. Timothy W. Goodly, senior vice president of human resources for CNN Worldwide, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., is the featured speaker. Tickets: $25. Info: (630) 942-4000 or cod.edu/MLK.
Ÿ Civil rights icon Julian Bond, who as a student came under the tutelage of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., speaks on King's life and legacy at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at West Aurora High School, 1201 W. New York St., Aurora. Free. High school students also participate in Aurora's annual Day of Service. Volunteers will be recognized with service awards at the celebration. High school volunteers must register: (630) 421-0600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ÿ Grammy Award-winning artist and actor Common is the keynote speaker for North Central College's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Week observance at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. Called the King of Conscious Hip-Hop, Common talks about "Greatness!" with a follow-up Q&A. Info: (630) 637-5156.
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.