Pulitzer Prize Winner, ’24’ Actor To Speak On MLK Day

Laura Schocker

By Laura Schocker The Daily Northwestern

With all classes canceled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, NU will bring two keynote speakers to Evanston: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page and noted actor Harry Lennix, Communication ’86.

In past years, the Evanston campus has had one keynote speaker during a three-hour class suspension. But with the entire day off on Jan. 15, two speakers will present.

Harvard Law Prof. Charles Ogletree will speak on NU’s Chicago campus.

“There was a real sense of obligation on the part of the committee to provide reflection for the whole day, not just an hour,” said Burgwell Howard, assistant to the vice president of student affairs and MLK Day Planning Committee chairman. “We’re really trying to connect with people over a longer period of time.”

Page, a Chicago Tribune columnist, will speak at noon at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

Burgwell said Page, who has appeared on television shows including “Hardball” and “Meet the Press,” will have resonance on campus both racially and politically.

“He has a lot to draw from,” Howard said. “We figured he’d be plugged in given how many people are involved in journalism on campus.”

Lennix will speak at 7 p.m. Monday during Alpha Phi Alpha’s annual candlelight vigil at Alice Millar Chapel. With roles in the “Ray,” the last two “Matrix” movies and ABC’s “Commander in Chief,” as well as an upcoming part on FOX’s “24,” Howard said Lennix, a Chicago native, will be a recognizable name and face to NU students.

“He has an insider perspective,” Howard said. “And he’s spoken out about what it means to be an African American in Hollywood.”

Other scheduled events include a Chicago-based service project, film screenings, a faculty teach-in and discussion groups.

“If your thing is going to a movie or attending a service or going to a lecture, there’s a way for you to remember, to celebrate and to reflect,” Howard said.

The planning committee was formed in October to obtain quality programming and speakers after University President Henry Bienen announced in April that classes would be canceled, said Jordan Fox, Associated Student Government academic vice president.

“You generally want to book your speakers a year ahead of time,” said Fox, a Communication senior. “We had to fight for people to come and I’m really proud of the effort we made.”

Obtaining the entire day off was part of Fox’s election platform.

“When I was campaigning, we were on the verge of getting it off,” Fox said. “But it’s been a really hard effort that’s been going on for the past seven years.”

But some students are not convinced that all of NU’s population is ready to commit the day to remembering King’s legacy.

“I feel like African American students will feel an obligation to come since we have the day off,” said Dominque Morris, a Weinberg senior. “As for other races, I’m not sure they’d go.”

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