Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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MC4+Music+performs+Saturday+at+the+Martin+Luther+King+Jr.+Day+celebration+at+the+Fleetwood-Jourdain+Community+Center.+
Anavi Prakash/The Daily Northwestern
MC4 Music performs Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center.

Evanston resident April Fuller went to the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center Saturday morning to watch her friend coach a boxing class. 

Fuller remained at the community center into the afternoon because she saw the setup for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event and she felt inclined to stay, she said. 

“It’s a day of reflection,” Fuller said. “It makes me think about what I want to do with my life and how I can help people.”

Fuller was one of nearly 200 community members who attended the city’s annual MLK Day celebration on Saturday.

The celebration has been held at the community center for the last 13 years, according to Tim Rhoze, the event’s organizer.

This year, the event was emceed by Niles Township High School Choir Director Matthew Hunter. It featured several musical performances and an original poem by Evanston Township High School junior Gracie Puricelli. 

Carlis Moody Jr. — a pastor at Faith Temple Church of God in Christ — spoke about discrimination and inclusivity in his keynote address.

Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss and Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) also spoke at the event, both discussing Evanston’s Restorative Housing Program and the importance of action over words. 

The reparations program’s goal is to shrink the opportunity and wealth gaps Black residents in Evanston have experienced due to housing discrimination. Evanston is also the only city in the country allocating funds to a reparations initiative, Burns said.

“As we get ready for 2024 in the city of Evanston, we ought to look at the best of what we’ve done and look at the example of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and understand that values aren’t enough and words alone don’t get it done,” Biss said. “All of those things, together with action that changes lives, is what we ought to aspire to.” 

Ted Williams III, creator of the musical “1619: The Journey of a People,” said he was “honored” to perform a selection of the musical’s songs in Evanston, which he called “a special place in the nation.” 

Williams and two of his cast members performed “Booker T. or Web,” “Steal Away” and “We Shall Overcome,” — three songs from the musical. 

For Puricelli, MLK Day serves as a reminder to continue creating respect, safety and equity in her community, which are all things that King emphasized. 

“It’s kind of like a yearly reminder that we have something to uphold and to work towards, and we have to build on that every single year,” she said. 

Pastor Carlis, as he is known by the community, further discussed respect, not only for one another, but for one’s self as well, in his keynote address. He also talked about how change can be a good thing.  

“Martin Luther King was telling us we had a choice,” he said. “We could go with the status quo, or we could risk whatever we are, whoever we are for the better good. You can’t be afraid of change. 

Pastor Carlis’ children, part of the group MC4 Music, also performed at the event. 

Other performers included the Faith Temple Combined Choir and the Evanston Children’s Choir. 

Stephanie Mullins-Wine , whose daughter is a member of ECC, said the event was a good opportunity for children and community members to learn about being “inclusive and not racist.”

“There’s still a lot of racism around, even in our community,” she said. “And I feel like this (event) just brings a lot of awareness to the fact that they still need to work on it.”

For a look into how the musical performers prepared for this event, listen to this episode of Everything Evanston.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @anavi_52

Related Stories: 

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Evanston residents set to receive reparations for housing discrimination

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Evanston 

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