Daily Herald
NCC celebrating 50th anniversary of MLK's Naperville visit
By Melissa Jenco | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 1/15/2010 12:11 AM

North Central College's annual tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will have special meaning for the school this year.

The college is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader's visit to its campus in Naperville. Beginning today, it will host a weeklong series of events including speakers, musical performances and a prayer breakfast.

King spoke at the college in 1960 as part of a series of civil rights speakers organized by the Rev. George St. Angelo, the college chaplain.

Ann Durkin Keating, a history professor at the college, said King had not won major victories in his civil rights efforts at the time of his visit and he was on a campaign to win support from northerners. His visit, she said, is an important part of the college's history.

"It speaks to very much the social activism that has long been a part of North Central College. Chaplain George St. Angelo was instrumental in having students think about the big issues of the day and what they could do," she said.

St. Angelo will be among the participants in two panel discussions taking place in King's memory.

The celebration begins today - King's birthday. Princeton professor Cornel West, author of "Race Matters," will speak at 7 p.m. at Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., using the same podium on the same stage as King used during his own visit. Tickets are $10.

On Saturday, Jan. 16, a panel will discuss its own experiences with King at 5 p.m. at Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31. S. Ellsworth St. Panelists include St. Angelo; the Rev. Kwame John Porter, a founder of Operation PUSH; and the Rev. Thomas Reinhart-Marean, who helped organize the college's student trip to Selma, Ala., in March 1965.

For those who would rather commemorate King with music, the Chicago Sinfonietta will perform "The Dream Lives On: Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." at 8 p.m. Saturday in Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are $40 and $50 for adults, $10 for students.

The celebration picks back up next week with a prayer breakfast at 7 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, at the Harold and Eva White Activities Center, 325 E. Benton Ave. North Central College alumnus the Rev. Robert Harman will give the keynote speech at the breakfast, which is invite-only. Harman, Class of 1959, marched with King and was arrested with him in 1966. He later penned "From Missions to Mission: The History of Mission of the United Methodist Church, 1968-2000."

At noon on Monday, Harman and St. Angelo both will be among the panelists talking about King's leadership qualities during a discussion at the White Activities Center.

The MLK festivities wrap up with the 22nd annual Gospel Extravaganza at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at Pfeiffer Hall. Both local and national gospel choirs will perform, including the college's Voices of Praise gospel choir and the 80-member Dexter Walker and Zion Movement Chorale. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens.

Martin Luther King Jr. events

North Central College today opens a weeklong celebration to honor Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke on the Naperville campus 50 years ago. Event tickets can be purchased by calling (630) 637-7469 or visiting finearts.northcentralcollege.edu.

Cornel West presentation

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15

Where: Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave.

Tickets: $10

"Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." discussion

When: 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Where: Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St.

Tickets: Free

Chicago Sinfonietta

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Where: Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave.

Tickets: $50 and $40 for adults, $10 for students

Prayer breakfast

When: 7 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18

Where: Harold and Eva White Activities Center, 325 E. Benton Ave.

Tickets: Invite only

Panel discussion on King's leadership qualities

When: Noon Monday, Jan. 18

Where: Harold and Eva White Activities Center, 325 E. Benton Ave.

Tickets: Free

Gospel Extravaganza

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23

Where: Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave.

Tickets: $15 for adults, $8 for students and seniors