'It's always easier to do nothing than to act': Hundreds honor King's legacy

  • Metta World Peace sits beside his wife, Maya Sandiford-Artest, as he is honored with the Courage Award during the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations event commemorating the 51st anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg Saturday.

      Metta World Peace sits beside his wife, Maya Sandiford-Artest, as he is honored with the Courage Award during the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations event commemorating the 51st anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle speaks during the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations event commemorating the 51st anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg Saturday.

      Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle speaks during the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations event commemorating the 51st anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/6/2019 11:44 PM

Hundreds gathered inside a Schaumburg hotel ballroom Saturday night to mark the 51st anniversary of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s death.

The Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations hosted the dinner at the Renaissance Hotel.

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The theme of the event, "We Are One," followed King's dream of an end to racial discrimination and segregation -- issues that still divide the nation decades after his assassination.

Among the speakers was Cook County Board president and recent Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle, who talked about her admiration for King and the need for social justice in America.

"His story tells us that change can come if you don't give up," Preckwinkle told the audience members, many of whom wore tuxedos and gowns for the affair.

Preckwinkle also noted that "nothing ... that is worth fighting for has been easy."

"It's always easier to do nothing than to act," she said. "We need people willing to work for social justice, knowing that the change we seek we may not see in our lifetime."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After a dinner break, the commission awarded former NBA star Metta World Peace its second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Courage prize.

World Peace, who played with the Chicago Bulls and six other teams during his NBA career, changed his name from Ron Artest in 2011. Off the court, he has worked to promote mental health services and combat violence.

In his remarks Saturday, World Peace talked of urban violence, the need for entrepreneurialism in urban communities and the importance of math, science and technology in schools.

"Every kid deserves the right to dream," World Peace said.

Saturday's dinner was held two days after the actual anniversary of King's death, which was April 4, 1968, in Memphis.

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