Evanston events honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Reverend Eddie Reeves recites Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 2019. Reeves will re-enact part of the speech again this year.

Aviva Bechky, City Editor

Content warning: This story contains mentions of lynching.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by reflecting on history through film screenings, musical events and lectures in Evanston this upcoming weekend.

“Evanston’s Living History: The Fight to Escape Racial Discrimination”

Jan. 12, 7 p.m. — Online.

The Evanston History Center will host an online presentation by filmmaker Craig Dudnick, the director of the 2008 film “Evanston’s Living History: The Fight to Escape Racial Discrimination.” Dudnick’s film follows the family members of Anthony Crawford, who was beaten and lynched by a white mob. The Crawford family was forced out of South Carolina and moved north to Evanston, where Crawford’s descendants fought for social justice and eventually helped bring about a U.S. Senate resolution apologizing to victims of lynching.

Dudnick will speak about his experience moving to Evanston and his relationship with Crawford’s descendants during the free event.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at Nichols Concert Hall

Jan. 15, 3 p.m. — 1490 Chicago Ave.

A free musical presentation co-presented by the Music Institute of Chicago and the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre will honor King this Sunday. Performances will include a violinist, a flutist and pianists, as well as spoken-word and visual art presentations.

Mayor Daniel Biss and Claire McFarland Barber, a member of the Reparations Committee, will both deliver remarks.

Interfaith Action Walk for Warmth

Jan. 16, 11 a.m. — 516 Church St. 

Each year for the past three years, Interfaith Action of Evanston has hosted a Walk for Warmth on MLK Day. This year is no different. The fourth family-friendly two-hour walk, which traces its way between several Evanston churches, serves as a fundraiser for the Interfaith Action of Evanston Overnight Shelter.

Celebration of MLK Day featuring Rev. Eddie Reeves

Jan. 16, 1:30 p.m. — Online.

Celebrate MLK Day through Evanston Public Library’s family-friendly virtual event. EPL will show two short films based on children’s books: “Martin’s Big Words” and “March On!” 

Eddie Reeves, the reverend of First Church of God Christian Life Center, will re-enact part of the “I Have a Dream” speech at the end of the event.

2023 Diverse Communities United

Jan. 16, 2 p.m. — 1600 Dodge Ave.

At Evanston Township High School, youth will lead a showcase in honor of King. This year’s theme is “It Starts with Me: Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems.” 

The ETHS event follows The King Center’s call for educational institutions to hold a teach-in based around the idea of community. 

Screening of “The Big Payback”

Jan. 16, 6 p.m. — 1715 Maple Ave.

“The Big Payback” looks into Evanston’s passage of the first-ever tax-funded reparations program for Black Americans. It follows Robin Rue Simmons, a member of the Reparations Committee.

It also examines Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s fight to pass H.R. 40, a national bill to study reparations and make recommendations.

Watch the film at the AMC Evanston 12 this weekend.

Northwestern Keynote: Sherrilyn Ifill speaks

Jan. 23, 5 p.m. 50 Arts Circle Dr. 

Sherrilyn Ifill, the former president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, will speak at the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Ifill has received numerous awards and recognitions, including becoming one of the TIME Magazine 100 Most Influential People in 2021 and one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @avivabechky

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