'Love thy neighbor as thyself' theme of King observance

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 1/16/2019 9:27 AM
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  • Sheila Caldwell, Wheaton College's first chief intercultural engagement officer, will deliver the keynote speech at a celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy Monday at Wheaton Christian Center in Carol Stream.

    Sheila Caldwell, Wheaton College's first chief intercultural engagement officer, will deliver the keynote speech at a celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy Monday at Wheaton Christian Center in Carol Stream. Courtesy Wheaton College

A celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life will feature music, speeches and discussions about the civil rights leader's legacy Monday at Wheaton Christian Center in Carol Stream.

Sheila Caldwell, Wheaton College's first chief intercultural engagement officer, will deliver the keynote speech.

"The theme this year is the love of community. The theme is a society based on justice, equal opportunity and 'love thy neighbor as thyself,'" Caldwell said.

A higher education veteran with 24 years of experience, including leadership roles at the University of North Georgia, Caldwell received her undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University, a master's from Argosy University and an Ed.D. from the University of Georgia. She joined the Wheaton College administration in March 2018.

Caldwell said she plans to address King's vision for America's future.

"He was very articulate and clear on what he thought America will be. I think it would be fair to say his dream has not been achieved," she said. "A lot of progress has not been made."

Caldwell said American life still falls short of the ideal of racial equality in terms of economic and housing opportunities, incarceration and poverty rates and life expectancy.

"I think it's helpful to be reflective and think about individual actions. We don't have a lot of control of things outside of ourselves," she said.

Caldwell said she is looking forward to Monday's event.

"It is going to be a community event focused on the legacy of MLK. It's not going to be a particularly religious event," she said.

The celebration is sponsored by the Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream, the Village of Carol Stream, Our Savior Lutheran Church and the Wheaton Christian Center.

The evening will include performances by the Wheaton Christian Center Choir and Outreach Community Center's Children's Choir.

The celebration will be preceded at 6 p.m. by a community discussion about King's legacy led by Restore: Carol Stream Peacemakers.

"The legacy of Martin Luther King -- one of the descriptors he gave himself -- is to spread the gospel of freedom," Caldwell said.

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