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A Community of One, the City of Evanston, several not-for-profit organizations and faith-based organizations hosted the 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Peace Pledge Day on Jan. 17. The community-wide event celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began at First United Methodist Church with a focus on peace and volunteerism that carried through the day.
A Community of One asked persons to sign Evanston’s Peace Pledge – to be a voice and a model for peace, non-violence and ethical behavior, and to contribute to the unity of the Evanston community through generosity and service to others. Paul Kalil, a representative of A Community of One, told the RoundTable the organization is not trying to duplicate existing services, but to encourage people to volunteer and to help others through existing non-profit organizations. The group is sponsored by faith-based organizations, but driven by lay volunteers, he said.
Reverend Mark Dennis Jr., senior pastor of Second Baptist Church, said A Community of One wants to “foster a spirit of service and peace in Evanston.” He added, “Volunteerism is a spirit that makes Evanston what it is.”
Building on the theme of volunteerism, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced that “Volunteer Evanston,” a service-based website sponsored by the City, the Evanston Community Organization, Northwestern University, Evanston Township High School and School District 65, will launch on Feb. 14. She said Volunteer Evanston will “make it easier for people to volunteer in Evanston.”
Non-profit organizations may register on the Volunteer Evanston site and post one-time and on-going volunteer opportunities. Prospective volunteers can then check out the volunteer opportunities, submit inquiries or sign up to volunteer.
After the program at First United Methodist Church of Evanston, about 100 people joined in a Peace March to the Music Institute of Chicago, where Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.) Inc. held its fifth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration “Diverse Evanston Walks United.”
At the two-hour program, youth and staff at Y.O.U. honored Dr. King’s legacy and promoted non-violence and the keeping of peace in Evanston with dance, dramatizations and readings.
Morris (Dino) Robinson Jr., founder of Shorefront, reminded everyone that Dr. King had visited Evanston three times, in 1958, 1962 and 1963.
He said, “In his time here, Dr. King influenced many of the people who are leaders today.” In looking at the past, present and future, he said, “There is always a fight for humanity that’s ongoing.”
At the end of the program, several hundred people in attendance arose and recited a peace pledge, committing to not engage in violent behavior, to help when someone is endangered by violence and to promote the message to stop violence.
Subsequent events included the Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Convocation at the Second Baptist Church, at which Rabbi Andrea London of Beth Emet the Free Synagogue was the keynote speaker. A panel discussion on “Religion, Diversity and Keys to Community Building” and a candlelight vigil followed.
Events throughout the day at Northwestern University also honored Dr. King. Tavis Smiley was the keynote speaker at a mid-day event.