Suburban Mosaic: Illinois to observe Muhammad Ali Day along with MLK on Jan. 17

Many suburban communities will mark another Martin Luther King Jr. Day with remembrances and celebrations on Monday, Jan. 17.

But this year, Illinoisans will celebrate another champion of civic justice on that same day. Jan. 17, 2022, marks the first observance of Muhammad Ali Day in Illinois.

Reflecting on MLK/Ali

The Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, which championed getting Muhammad Ali Day recognized statewide, will host a virtual and in-person dialogue from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday on Ali's and King's models of hope, courage and conviction through extreme challenges.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson will deliver opening remarks. Maryum Ali, Muhammad Ali's daughter, is a special guest. Speakers include: Aisha el-Amin, University of Illinois Chicago associate vice chancellor for equity and belonging; Donald Lassere, president of the Chicago History Museum and former president of the Muhammad Ali Museum in Louisville, Kentucky; and coalition leaders Dilara Sayeed and Maaria Mozaffar.

To register, sign up at For accommodation to participate in the in-person event, contact by Jan. 11. For more information, email

Ali/King posters

The coalition is offering free 11-inch by 17-inch posters featuring Muhammad Ali and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to commemorate the first year both men are recognized statewide on Jan. 17.

Teachers and students requesting posters also will receive a discussion and lessons tool kit to use in the classroom.

A donor commissioned 10,000 posters to be delivered free, and more than 6,000 posters already have been requested.

"We've had an amazing response from educators, nonprofit organizations, public officials, and businesses across the state requesting posters," said Dilara Sayeed, president and co-founder of the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition and a former Naperville Unit District 203 teacher. "We hope this commemoration will continue to help us share our diverse American story."

To order free posters, visit

Day of service

To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and King's legacy of service, Cradles to Crayons Chicago is collecting donated new or gently used children's items from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17.

This year's MLK Day of Service is expected to be the largest, with more than 35 Chicago-area drop-off sites and more than 145 registered volunteers sorting and packing donations. Winter coats, boots, hats, gloves, scarves, warm clothes and pajamas are being accepted. Items donated will be distributed through the group's service partners.

You can find purple contactless donation boxes at these suburban locations: Alcott Center, 530 Bernard Drive, Buffalo Grove; Bank of America, 1301 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville, and 1300 N. Arlington Heights Road, Buffalo Grove; Buffalo Grove Park Community Arts Center, 225 McHenry Road, Buffalo Grove; Fry Family YMCA, 2120 W., 2120 95th St., Naperville; and Indian Boundary YMCA, 711 59th St., Downers Grove.

Virtual celebration

Aurora-based Agape Connection's 21st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebration will be held virtually at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16.

Since 1991, the nonprofit has provided educational and cultural programming for children and youth from the Western suburbs.

The event is open to the public. The guest speaker is the Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard, III, president of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Pollard is a scholar, author, consultant, and speaker about religion and African American culture.

Tickets are $75 and available at For information, call (630) 898-5333.

Chicago-based Chinese American artist Hope Wang's works will be featured in an exhibit titled "The Vacant Plot of Sky" running Jan. 18 through March 1, in galleries at McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14 in Crystal Lake. Courtesy of Hope Wang

Art exhibit

Chicago-based Chinese American artist Hope Wang's works will be featured in an exhibit titled "The Vacant Plot of Sky" running Jan. 18 through March 1, in galleries at McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.

Wang's work incorporates architectural landscape as malleable visual language where building facades become eroded, redacted, and defaced. She translates images of architectural "scars" in factory parking lots, construction sites, and city commutes through computer-assisted hand-weaving and meticulous printmaking.

A reception with the artist is set from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 16 in the galleries. The event is free and open to the public.

Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk

Book talk

Author and former Daily Herald reporter Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk will talk about her book, "We Are Eagles: Inspiring Stories of Immigrant Women Who Took Bold Steps in Life through Literacy," at 7 p.m. Thursday, at Plainfield Public Library, 15025 S. Illinois St., Plainfield.

The book focuses on immigrant women who changed their lives after learning English at the Dominican Literacy Center in Aurora.

Admission and parking are free. Registration is requested at

Islamophobia report

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, will release its latest Islamophobia report on Tuesday.

The "Islamophobia in the Mainstream" report identifies 35 major charitable institutions and foundations that funneled almost $106 million to 26 anti-Muslim groups between 2017-2019.

The report also details more than a dozen anti-mosque incidents as well as anti-Muslim activity in schools, American politics and social media.

Diverse teachers

The ethnic and racial diversity of the nation's 6.6 million teachers has increased since 1990 but hasn't caught up with the diversity of students. About a quarter of all teachers are nonwhite and 9.4% Latino today, compared with 16% and 4%, respectively, three decades ago, according to U.S. Census Bureau analysis.

Illinois' teacher workforce is 82% white, 7.9% Latino, 6% Black, and 1.7% Asian. Its student population is 46.7% white, 27% Latino, 16.6% Black, and 5.4% Asian, 2021 Illinois Report Card data show.

Illinois schools added 1,251 more Latino teachers and 184 more Black teachers in the 2020-21 school year. Latino and Black teachers increased from 5.6% and 5.8%, respectively, in the 2016-17 school year to 7.9% and 6% last school year.

The Illinois State Board of Education has awarded $3.5 million in grants to support 100 high schools in creating a pipeline for future educators with a focus on recruiting future teachers of color. ISBE also is partnering with the Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers on a mentorship and instructional coaching program to provide more support to new educators who started teaching during the pandemic.

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