Two NIU groups to celebrate King holiday

By Brenden Walz

The NIU campus will take a break next week with several activities relating to the observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Although there will be no classes Monday, two campus groups are planning to hold events in remembrance of the slain civil rights leader.

The NIU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will hold a commemoration march Monday starting at 4:30 p.m.

NIU Chapter President Emanuel Barr said local response to the holiday has been positive.

“People are responding to the holiday very well at NIU,” said Barr. “As we start recognizing him, as the African-American community starts recognizing him, his memory will grow.”

Chapter Vice President Maurice Thomas said the march symbolizes King himself and the marches which King participated in, such as the Alabama march from Selma to Montgomery during the 1960s. Thomas also organized the march.

The march will begin in front of Stevenson Towers North and wind around the residence halls, continuing to the Holmes Student Center and end in the King Memorial Commons, where a brief ceremony will be held.

This is the second year of the holiday’s observance in Illinois but the first time NIU’s NAACP chapter has held a march.

Members of the University Police and the DeKalb Police Department will be on hand to provide security for the procession.

The NIU Black Choir will march in front of the procession and sing spirituals during the march.

The Delta Sigma Theta sorority will also be holding an event to commemorate King.

The theme for the event is “Remembering the Past, Creating the Future: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King.” The event on Tuesday runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Regency Room of the student center.

The event will feature speakers from different sections of the campus community. Speakers will include Provost Kendall Baker, Maria Waller, president of the Black Student Union, David Schmidt, representative from United Campus Ministries and Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs.

Delta Sigma Theta historian Kimberly Hines said the idea for the event developed from discussions with members of the sorority.

The Rev. Leroy Mitchell of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church will give the keynote speech for the evening.

“Ever since I was a freshman, there has never been a program to remember Dr. King,” Hines said.

Hines said it is important for people to understand and learn about what King tried to accomplish.

“We need to know where we have come from in order to know where we are going,” she said.

She said she hoped that by looking back at King’s dream, people would come to realize their own dreams and how those dreams could lead to the better society King talked about in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Hines said all members of NIU and the local community are welcome.