The word “love” echoed in Northwestern University’s Alice Millar Chapel – bouncing on the stained glass windows as it hopped off each speaker’s tongue.

Members in the audience like Marcia Grabowecky (left) and Melissa Kusi-Amponsah turned toward each other to pass a flame. Credit: Gina Castro

Residents packed the chapel pews Monday afternoon for a candlelight vigil in honor of the Baptist minister and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Monday afternoon, who would have turned 94 on Jan. 15.

A single white candle glowed unwaveringly in front of the wooden podium.

“I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great a burden to bear,” said Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors, referencing a quote from King.

Northwestern’s Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate historically African American fraternity, brought the vigil together. It’s a fierce supporter of civil rights and leaders, including King.

Dave Bavis (left) and Michael Schill joining candle flames. Credit: Gina Castro

The Northwestern Community Ensemble sang Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Brandon Jones, a member of the fraternity, asked guest to join him in prayer for peace.

“Fill us with your Holy Spirit and we might realize that we are all members of the same human family created in your image and likeness,” Jones said.

Nabors, the senior pastor of the Second Baptist Church, one of the oldest African American churches on the North Shore, delivered the keynote speech.

He encouraged members of the audience to embrace their differences and to seek knowledge from people of all cultures, creeds and races.

“Expanding your mind is simply another way of searching for what is right, what is just, what is true,” Nabors said.

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Fraternity brothers each used the single candle upfront to ignite their flames. They shared the light with guests on the inner rows until the whole room filled with tiny glowing lights.

Rev. D’ana Downing, assistant university chaplain, closed out the vigil. Downing is a womanist and found it fitting to end the evening with the words of another womanist: human and civil rights leader Ella Baker.

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

“Ashe,” Downing said, referring to the Yoruba word meaning power, command, and authority; it is the ability to make whatever one says happen.

With a puff of air, all candles were extininguished.

Gina Castro

Gina Castro is a Racial Justice fellow for the RoundTable. She recently earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she studied investigative reporting....

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