Northwestern University salutes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Talks by Tavis Smiley, Eboo Patel and Cheryle Jackson among many free events


Evanston, IL – Popular TV and radio host Tavis Smiley and Interfaith Youth Core founder and executive director Eboo Patel will deliver the midday keynote addresses commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Monday, Jan. 17, at Northwestern University. The evening keynote will be given by former Chicago Urban League President and Chief Executive Officer Cheryle Jackson. (Editors’ note: see instructions for media coverage below).

Their free and open-to-the-public presentations are part of a weeklong celebration of MLK Jr. Day that will include lectures, programs and panel discussions, an art exhibition, music performances and a staged reading of playwright and Northwestern alumna Gloria Bond Clunie’s play “North Star.”

Smiley will speak at noon on the University’s Evanston campus at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive. Although free, tickets are required for the Evanston noon celebration. Starting Thursday, Jan. 6, Northwestern faculty, staff and students can obtain two free tickets per WildCARD ID at the Norris University Center Box office on the first floor of Norris, 1999 Campus Drive. A WildCARD must be presented to obtain tickets. Any remaining tickets will be made available at the Box Office to the general public starting Friday, Jan. 14, and at the door on the day of the Jan. 17 event.

Patel will speak at noon on the Chicago campus in Northwestern’s School of Law’s Thorne Auditorium (Arthur Rubloff Building), 375 E. Chicago Ave.

Northwestern will suspend all day and evening classes Jan. 17, on both campuses for a full-day University-wide observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. (All other University operations will function that day.)

Smiley is the host of the national late-night television talk show “Tavis Smiley” on PBS and of Public Radio International’s “The Tavis Smiley Show.” The author of 14 books, he is the editor of “Covenant with Black America,” a national call for action to address African Americans’ foremost concerns. His memoir, “What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America,” was a New York Times best-seller.

Patel is the author of “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation” and a regular contributor to The Washington Post, USA Today and CNN. A former Rhodes Scholar, Patel served on President Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. His Chicago based international nonprofit group aims to promote interfaith tolerance and cooperation.

Patel’s address will focus on religious bigotry that is prevalent in today’s society and the power of symbols within and between faiths to unite and divide us. The Jan. 17 Chicago campus program will include performances by the G3 Youth Gospel Choir and operatic vocalist Martin Woods, and award presentations to the winners of the second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Art Contest.

The Jan. 17 noon Evanston campus program at Pick-Staiger also will include remarks by University administrators and campus leaders as well as performances by the Northwestern Community Ensemble and the Jazz Small Ensemble. Robert A. Harris, the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music’s director of choral organizations, will conduct the University Chorale. Lobby doors open at 11 a.m. and the hall opens at 11:30 a.m. General seating will be on a first-come-, first-seated basis. Parking for the event is available at the Lakeside Parking Structure, directly south of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

At 7 p.m. on Jan 17, the annual Alpha Phi Alpha Candlelight Vigil at Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Road, will feature a keynote address by Northwestern alumna and trustee Cheryle Jackson and musical performances by the Alice Millar Chapel Choir and several University a cappella student groups. Jackson served as communications director for the Governor of Illinois and was the first woman and African American in the state’s history to hold that position, and former president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Urban League. She now serves as a director on the boards of Northwestern University, The Field Museum, the Executive Club of Chicago and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. A reception in Parkes Hall will follow the program, which is presented by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the MLK planning committee.


On Jan. 15, in recognition of the community-building work accomplished by Martin Luther King Jr., Northwestern students will have the opportunity to volunteer for off-campus service projects in Evanston and Chicago neighborhoods that will take place on the University’s MLK Day of Service. Registration may be done online at For more information, students may direct questions to Andrea Bell at (847) 491-2350 or e-mail

At 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 17, NUSAC (Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council) will host a reception including light food and beverages for Northwestern staff and faculty at the Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive.

At 3 p.m. on Jan. 17, the staged reading of “North Star,” an award-winning play about a young girl growing up in North Carolina in the early days of the civil rights struggle by Northwestern alumna Gloria Bond Clunie, will take place in the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive. Directed by Rives Collins, chair of Northwestern’s theatre department, “North Star” examines the power of individuals and the courage they showed during a pivotal period of American history. Playwright Clunie will join Collins and the student cast for a post-show discussion. Presented by the Theatre and Interpretation Center at Northwestern University, the reading will contain adult language and is recommended for audience members aged 11 and up. The event is free and open to the public. General admission seating is limited and reservations are recommended. To make a reservation, visit


Northwestern University’s School of Law and Feinberg School of Medicine are co-sponsoring the DREAM 2011: Martin Luther King Jr. Day Lecture Series, lunchtime talks from Jan. 10 through 15, on the Chicago campus. The remaining talks include:

Noon, Wednesday, Jan 12: Pro Bono and Community Service Fair, School of Law Atrium, 375 E. Chicago Ave.

4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12: “Examining the Power of Symbols” panel discussion featuring Northwestern panelists Harvey Young, associate professor of theatre, performance studies, African American studies and radio/television/film, School of Communication, and Lane Fenrich, assistant dean, Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Kimbriell Kelly, senior editor, Chicago Reporter, will moderate the discussion. The event will take place in the School of Law, Room 150, Arthur Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave.

Noon, Thursday, Jan. 13: “What Does it Mean to Be White?” featuring panelists William A. Von Hoene, Jr., executive vice president, finance and legal, Exelon Corporation; Rick Kittles, associate professor, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago; Regine W. Corrado, Baker & McKenzie, LLP; and Destiny Peery, Ph.D/JD candidate, Northwestern School of Law. Dwight A. McBride, dean of The Graduate School, will moderate. The discussion will take place in The School of Law, Room 150, Arthur Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave.

Noon, Friday Jan. 14: “Commercially Prevalent, Conscientiously Absent: Native Americans in the U.S.” panel discussion. Olivia Roanhorse, policy associate at Ounce of Prevention Fund, will be among the panelists. Other participants will be announced soon. The event will take place in Hughes Auditorium, Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center, 303 E. Superior.

For more information on these and other Evanston and Chicago campus events honoring Martin Luther King Jr., visit

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