Youth Organization Umbrella (Y.O.U.) held its 9th annual “Diverse Communities United, Revitalizing King’s Vision Today,” a community-wide celebration of peace, diversity, unity, leadership and service, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The celebration, held at the Music Institute of Chicago, began with percussion featuring Y.O.U. Spartans and Northwestern’s Boomshaka. Y.O.U. students from Lincoln Junior High School in Skokie and Dawes, King Arts, Nichols, Oakton and Washington schools in Evanston then performed choregraphed dances, sang songs and read poems during the hour and one-half celebration. More than 400 people attended.
The performances embodied Dr. King’s message. For example, five students from Dawes performed a rap called “Let’s Take a Stand.” The chorus each student recited was, “We’ve come so far, but there’s more to go. All it takes is me and you. … Let’s take a stand.”
Other students said what they dreamed for, including that poor people would have shelter, that people would stop being racist, that people would stop making wars.
The event was punctuated with three short speeches by Seth Green, Y.O.U. executive director, Froilan Landeros, Y.O.U. program manager at King Arts Schools, and Omar Brown, Y.O.U. parent and District 65 School Board member.
Mr. Green said, “We’re striving to really live up to what it means to live in a diverse, inclusive community. What makes me proud is we’re on the journey together.”
Mr. Landeros focused on forgiveness, which he said is more necessary now than ever. One should not pardon injustice or discrimination, he said, “but it is okay to forgive. … It all begins with one person ready to forgive and beginning to pursue justice.”
Mr. Brown focused on the strength of community. He said Evanston provides that through its engaged residents, its dedicated schools and its strong non-profit organizations dedicated to children. In closing his remarks he said, “I only have one statement: Choose Evanston.”