The annual celebration of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., held at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center on Jan. 17, featured music, dance and speeches by Evanstonians. Tim Rhoze, artistic director of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, former Mayor Lorraine Morton and McGaw Y President Mark Dennis each spoke of Dr. King’s values and mission.
“Martin Luther King Day celebrates the goals and values for which we are still trying,” said Mayor Tisdahl.
“Even before Martin Luther King, there were a lot of people in the United States who were doing the things that Martin Luther King stood for,” said Mayor Morton. She mentioned Helen Heyrman, “who went to Selma. … There were people who gave their time, their thoughts, and their money [to civil rights issues].” She also said it was Bob Coven, then a member of the City’s Sanitation Department, who brought to City Council the idea of having a local King Day celebration. “Here in Evanston, you had a man who cleaned the streets, but he was the one who came to ask for a Martin Luther King Day celebration,” said Mayor Morton.
“Every day is a new day [that] reminds us that there is still something to be accomplished,” said Mr. Dennis. He quoted Dr. King’s comment on the necessity for activism: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
“Don’t stop when you have arrived,” said Reverend Kenneth Cherry of Christ Temple Missionary Baptist Church.
The Evanston Children’s Choir sang “Harambee” and “Shine a Little Light.” Jaiden Francis recited a portion of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Costumed as a lion from his performance with Evanston Dance Ensemble in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” Sidney Chuckas performed a solo dance.
With only his acoustic guitar as accompaniment, David “Chainsaw” Dupont performed “People Get Ready,” then closed the ceremony with “Sweet Home Chicago.”