Did you know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered speeches right here in Evanston?

In 1958, King spoke at Northwestern University’s annual Mars Lecture Series. But his presence in the city doesn’t stop there. King spoke at churches in the area, too. You can learn more about this history during the MLK Dream Drive tour, an audio tour and car parade.

Participants can decorate their vehicles for the MLK Dream Drive parade. Credit: King Arts PTA

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School is highlighting Evanston’s historic connections to the civil rights movement and beyond. This year marks the school’s third annual MLK Dream Drive tour event starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the school, 2424 Lake St. The students will perform a fine arts concert at 11 a.m.

Although you can enjoy the MLK Dream Drive tour at any time, you can join the school’s car parade of the tour at 1 p.m. Guests will be encouraged to decorate their vehicles with balloons and signs, supplied by the school, starting at noon.

“It’s just been one of my favorite days that we have at the school and the Dream Drive following it is even more exciting,” said Aarti Desai, King Arts PTA vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion.

This self-guided tour takes participants on a journey through a dozen or so historic stops while the pre-recorded voices of King Arts students and faculty provide guidance. This event closes out the school’s annual Dream Week, where students learn more about King and other civil rights leaders.

“Honestly, we work this into our curriculum on the regular; it’s not just for a one week thing when it comes to this school,” said Lauren Peters, King Arts PTA vice president of programming.

“Our kids come home and they still teach us multiple things. We definitely put an emphasis on it for just this particular week, but honestly the learning and how MLK is weaved into the school and the curriculum that we have going on throughout the year is just constant.”

By registering for the event online, participants will have access to the audio tour and map.

Last year’s MLK Dream Drive Credit: Kings Arts PTA

Each year new stops are added. The tour features stops at some murals this year, Desai said.

One of Desai’s favorite stops on the tour is at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Statue on North Shore Channel Trail. This stop connects to a special memory in her family.

“My grandfather walked with Mahatma Gandhi,” Desai said.

“So that’s one stop we always drive by. The kids always remember, and it really resonates with them. We share that story with our friends as much as we can just to share that connection.”

An open house at the King Arts school kicks off at 10 a.m. Feb. 4. There will be a food drive collection for Evanston Community Fridges. The PTA will collect donations for the King Arts PTA and the PTA Equity Project’s One Fund, which is shared among all schools in Evanston/ Skokie School District 65.

“It’s really fun,” Desai said. “You can tell if somebody’s on the Dream Drive because they have their cars decorated.”

You’ll have to come see the student’s fine arts concert to know more. Not even the PTA parents know the details, Desai and Peters said.

“It’s been fantastic to display the kids and see the way that they can reflect those learnings through art and music and dance,” Desai said.

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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