DuPage residents invited to remember King's legacy

The Rev. Kevin Williams says anyone who attends the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. DuPage County celebration in downtown Wheaton Monday evening will walk out of Gary Methodist Church with a sense of hope.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the church, 224 Main St., where people of all races, faith traditions and ethnic backgrounds can remember King and honor his legacy through prayer and song.

It's a tradition that was started more than 25 years ago by leaders of the Second Baptist Church in Wheaton and DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle.

"Unfortunately, many in this generation are not familiar with some of the work and contributions that (King) made," said Williams, Second Baptist's senior pastor. "The fact that we continue to honor his life brings to the forefront his fight for solidarity and his fight against discrimination."

The Rev. Jim Honig, senior pastor of Faith Evangelical Luthern Church in Glen Ellyn, will be this year's keynote speaker. The evening also will feature performances by the Second Baptist praise and worship team and step team and Gary United Methodist Church's peace choir.

Planning committee member and Second Baptist administrator Rose Clark said an addition to the event is the reading of King's "I Have a Dream" speech by three people - a young boy, a young man and Williams - to reflect how King upheld the values mentioned in his speech throughout his life.

After a year's hiatus, scholarships again will be awarded to high school seniors who wrote winning essays after being nominated by guidance counselors at every high school in the county.

"That is one of the hallmarks of what sets this celebration apart from others," Williams said, adding that each recipient is "somebody who embodies what Dr. King stood for when it comes to inclusiveness, and someone who works toward correcting or addressing injustice."

The $500 awards are being given to a larger number of students this year. They are:

• Melina Thurmond, Glenbard West.

• Dania Jones, Wheaton North.

• Katherine Himes, Wheaton Warrenville South.

• Autumn Gage, IC Catholic Prep.

• Shruti Amin, Glenbard North.

• Ravyn Shelton, Downers Grove North.

• Elizabeth Pasker, St. Francis College Prep.

• Piarre Easley, Willowbrook.

• Ariana Calderone, Addison Trail.

• Briana Mary Nicole Demming, Waubonsie Valley.

• Daniel Sakho, Hinsdale Central.

• and Eloise Omoihe, Lisle.

More MLK celebrations

Here are some other events in DuPage County celebrating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.:

• Chicago Sinfonietta presents its annual "Tribute to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr." at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, in North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. Tickets: $60, $48 and $10. Info: (630) 637-7469 or

• A Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast is from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 16, in the Krasa Student Center at Benedictine University, 5700 College Road, Lisle. Tickets: $30. Info: (630) 942-4000 or

• The 18th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration begins at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, at Wheaton Christian Center, 610 E. North Ave., Carol Stream. The keynote speaker is the Rev. Paul Arthurs, senior pastor at Wheaton Christian Center. The Wheaton Christian Center Choir and Outreach Community Center's Children's Choir perform and a student from the center's College Opportunity Program shares. Attendees are invited to come early for a community circle dialogue about the lasting impact of King's work, from 6 to 6:45 p.m., led by RESTORE: Carol Stream Peacemakers. Free. Info: (630) 653-1044.

• Aurora's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration starts at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, at Metea Valley High School, 1801 N. Eola Road, Aurora. Free. Info:

• Author and cultural critic Roxane Gay is North Central College's Martin Luther King Jr. Week keynote speaker at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. She addresses controversies about feminism and the current political climate. Tickets are $5 and available at the door or by calling (630) 637-7469.

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