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The Daily Northwestern

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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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Community gathers for candlelight vigil to honor MLK’s legacy as Black History Month approaches

Sonya Dymova/The Daily Northwestern
Attendees lit candles and sang gospel music to honor King during the candlelight vigil.

Candle lights flickered and gospel tunes filled the air in Alice Millar Chapel Sunday evening.

Northwestern students, staff and community members came together to celebrate the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight Vigil hosted by the Alpha Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc..

This year’s vigil included Rev. Reginald W. Williams, Jr. as the keynote speaker. Williams is a pastor at the First Baptist Church of University Park, Ill., and serves as an adjunct professor at the McCormick Theological Seminary and Chicago Theological Seminary.

Williams said King’s work has been “sanitized” of its true message in order to let others hear what they consider comfortable or acceptable.

“We live in a sanitized surface society, when we are worried about clothes, cars, cash, what you drive instead of what’s driving you,” William said. “I get happy because we get to celebrate him … for his spiritual genius, but so many people sanitize Dr. King and his message and meaning in order to handle them better.”

The candlelight vigil, rescheduled from Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, comes with Black History Month right around the corner.

Williams finished his address by calling on members of the audience to have the courage to call out injustice, stand up for righteousness and be conscious of their company to pave a more equitable future as echoed by King’s legacy.

“Since we started this event in 1979, it allowed both young and elderly people to remember the message and struggle that Dr. King gave his life for,” said McCormick senior Matthias Nobles, president of the Alpha Mu Chapter. “We should not only be celebrating his life, but we should also be continuing his legacy of service activism and equality.” 

The event featured Bienen senior Olivia Pierce’s performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — often referred to as the Black national anthem — as a reminder of the historic path to liberty of Black Americans.

The commemoration also featured offerings for March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing birth defects and premature birth. The Alpha Mu Chapter also handed out three $500 scholarships for students demonstrating academic excellence and community involvement.

To close out, attendees got up on their feet to sing along to the lyrics of “We Shall Overcome,” followed by a benediction given by Reverend D’ana Downing.

Communication Prof. Kent R. Brooks, the director of Religious and Spiritual Life, helped organize the event’s logistics and music presentation alongside the planning committee of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration.

He said he felt the event brought out a sense of togetherness among community members.

“This is a place where the message of King supersedes denominations and backgrounds and things of that nature,” Brooks said. “It is a message of unity and communion.”

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