Alpha Mu hosts Alice Millar Candlelight Vigil to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.


Illustration by Alex Perry

Alpha Mu hosted a candlelight vigil for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Erica Schmitt, Audio Editor

Northwestern students, faculty and community members filled the wooden pews and lit candles at Alice Millar Chapel on Monday afternoon to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

To kick off “Dream Week,” the Alpha Mu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha hosted its 44th annual candlelight vigil. This year’s event was the first in-person ceremony since 2019.

Alpha Mu educational activities director and SESP senior Brandon Jones said that last year, his fraternity had to navigate the livestream from Kresge Hall.

“We couldn’t really feel the gravity of when somebody was up there at the podium,” he said.

This year, Jones said listening to the speakers in person, including keynote speaker the Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors and fellow Alpha brother Laurence Minter was special.

The Northwestern Community Ensemble performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, often referred to as the Black national anthem.

Minter then performed his original poem “The Kingdom,” which highlighted themes of justice, freedom and peace.

Nabors then spoke about King’s legacy. He was honored to be asked to speak and carry on King’s traditions, he said, both by advocating for social justice and by being a Black Baptist preacher.

According to Nabors, King’s capacity to balance scholarship and faith helped King lead with love. Nabors called for the peace that King wanted by urging people to widen their understanding of other cultures to be a better version of themselves.

“I want to offer information, I want to inspire and I want to have people leave wanting to do something to make the world a better place,” Nabors said. “Expanding horizons means that you can leave here and make a difference in the world when you’re doing that.”

Nabors ended by saying God loves all people of all ethnicities, reading a King quote about being remembered for love and helping others.

Caroline Minter, a community member and mother of spoken word performer Laurence Minter, said the event brought a sense of solidarity to the community through the speakers and the candle lighting ceremony.

Caroline Minter said she enjoyed how Nabors talked about NU’s diverse student body and how that can be used to facilitate learning from each other.

“I hope that the young people here at the University really take hold of that and don’t leave the same way they came in,” she said.

Following the speech, Alpha Mu members lit their candles starting from the front pews and spread the flame by walking down the aisle.

The Rev. D’ana Downing closed with the benediction, urging young people to continue pursuing peace. 

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

Jones hopes the event will continue for many years to come to honor King’s continued legacy.

NU students have the opportunity to participate in other events for Dream Week, like attending keynote speaker Sherrilyn Ifill’s talk.

“I think it goes along with that saying ‘You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream,’” Jones said. “As long as we keep celebrating his dream, his legacy will live on forever.”

Clarification: This story has been updated to better reflect Laurence Minter’s association with the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

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