Northwestern University will host a 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. mid-January observance that will feature a performance by Chicago jazz legend Ramsey Lewis and his trio, lectures by prominent keynote speakers, a weeklong series of informative panel discussions, and film, music and theater events. All are free and open to the public.

In addition and commemoration of the late civil rights leader’s life and legacy, Northwestern will suspend classes Monday, Jan. 18, on both campuses for a University-wide, full-day observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. (All other University operations will function that day.)

Northwestern’s School of Law and Feinberg School of Medicine are co-sponsoring the DREAM 2010: Martin Luther King Jr. Day Lecture Series, five consecutive lunchtime talks from noon to 1:15 p.m. from Jan. 11 to 15, on the Chicago campus.

On Monday, Jan. 11, Anthony Ponce of NBC Channel Five will moderate “Historical Roots & Contemporary Challenges: What Are the Rights of Illegal Immigrants?” The event will take place in Room 150 of the Arthur Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12: “Environmental Racism: Poverty and Pollution in Minority Communities,” will be moderated by Kimbriell Kelly, senior editor, The Chicago Reporter, Room 180 of the Rubloff Building.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, there will be a film screening and lecture of “Fighting for Liberty in the Face of Denial: ‘Ask Not’” moderated by Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern professor of law. The showing will take place in Hughes Auditorium of the Robert H. Lurie building, 303 E. Superior St.

On Thursday, Jan. 14, “America’s Forgotten People, Current Issues Affecting Native Americans,” will take place in  Room 150 of the Rubloff Building.

To close the talks, there will be a DREAM Award Recipient Lecture in Baldwin Auditorium, Lurie Building, 303 E. Superior St on Friday, Jan. 15, given by DREAM Award recipient Carmen Velasquez, executive director and founder of the Alivio Medical Center in Chicago, a bilingual, bicultural, nonprofit community health center.

Tony Award-nominated playwright Joanna McClelland Glass’ play “Palmer Park” will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, and 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, at the Theatre and Interpretation Center’s (TIC) Mussetter-Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston. In 1967, the worst of the race riots occurred in Detroit, resulting in the flight of more than 100,000 white city residents. But not every white resident left. “Palmer Park” tells the story of one Detroit neighborhood’s struggle to uphold the ideal of integration. Directed by Rives Collins, Northwestern’s theatre department chair, this staged reading is part of the Big Ten university theatre initiative. Both performances will be followed by post-show discussions with the creative team. General admission is free and open to the public; seating is limited and reservations are required. For reservations, contact the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282.

Several Evanston churches, synagogues and other religious institutions have banded together to plan A Community of One, a series of community-wide events on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 18. All members of the Evanston community are invited to the events, which will be held throughout Evanston, for a day a fellowship and celebration of the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Institutions participating in A Community of One include: Beth Emet Synagogue, First Congregational Church of Evanston, First United Methodist Church of Evanston, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Lake Street Church of Evanston and Second Baptist Church of Evanston.

The day’s events for A Community of One will begin with a community coffee at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Evanston, 516 Church St. From there the group will assemble and depart at 11:30 a.m. for a Peace March to Second Baptist Church of Evanston, 1717 Benson Ave. 

At noon, three choices of MLK Day activities are available from both A Community of one and Northwestern University.

First, jazz legend Ramsey Lewis will take part in an on-stage Q&A prior to performing new and old songs at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston. Locally, the Grammy Award-winning composer and pianist also is remembered as WNUA-FM Chicago’s weekday morning drive-time radio host from 1997 to 2009. He continues to host the syndicated “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis” radio program that airs in more than 75 cities across the nation. The program will include remarks by University administrators and campus leaders. It also will feature performances by the Alice Millar Chapel Choir, Northwestern Community Ensemble and Northwestern University clarinetist and saxophonist Victor Goines, Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music professor and director of jazz studies. The event is free and seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. No tickets are required. Pick-Staiger doors will open at 11:15 a.m.

Harriet Washington, award-winning author of “Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present,” will be the keynote speaker on the Chicago campus at noon as well. Washington will discuss the legacy of experimentation and injustice in medicine at Thorne Auditorium in the Arthur Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave. A panel including U.S. Senator Richard Durbin also will be present to discuss health care issues, and Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn will honor the youth winners of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Art Contest. An 11 a.m. public reception in the Rubloff lobby will precede the program. Tickets are not required; seating is first-come, first-served. A public reception and book signing will follow the program.

In addition, the Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation begins at noon at Second Baptist Church. Dr. Drew Smith, Director of Church and the Black Experience program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary will be the keynote speaker at the convocation.  Dr. Smith earned his bachelor of science in education from Indiana University, a master of divinity from Yale Divinity School and master of arts and a doctor of philosophy in political science from Yale University

The Evanston faith communities are calling upon each individual to make a personal pledge of peace through service for 2010, said Travis Clifton, one of the organizers of the event. A comprehensive list of service opportunities that support the Evanston community will be made available to those in attendance. 

“We invite all Evanston residents to come and be part of some or all of the day’s activities,” Clifton said.

For more information on the King Day activities, contact Karen Davis of Second Baptist Church at 847-869-6955 or visit www.northwestern.edu/mlk/.