By Frederick H. Lowe
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life will be celebrated with speeches and personal remembrances by key staff members who worked closely with him in Chicago.
The celebration is scheduled for 4p.m. January 14 at Morgan Park United Methodist Church, 11030 S. Longwood Dr. in Chicago. James Earl Ray, a white assassin, murdered Dr. King on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was born January 15, 1929.
The commemoration, which is free to the public, is being called “MLK Dream Keepers…Staying the Course.”
The Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church is hosting the service, which is being coordinated by the Black Methodists for Church Renewal of Northern Illinois.
The conference represents 381 churches in six districts in Northern Illinois.
Black Methodists for Church Renewal serves the unique needs of African-American Congregations in the United Methodist Church.
The Reverend Dennis M. Oglesby Jr., senior pastor of Transformation Community United Methodist Church in Harvey, Illinois, is president of Black Methodists for Church Renewal.
The event will combine spiritual worship with reflections by Chicago-area civil rights legends.
They are: Brenetta Howell Barrett, Dr. Timuel D. Black, Rev. Martin L. Deppe and Rev. Calvin S. Morris. The speakers will take questions from the audience.
When Dr. King came to Chicago in 1966 to live on the West Side, Barrett was among the leaders who worked with him and his staff on major issues of that time.
In the 1960s, Dr. Black served as an adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr., and he led the Chicago contingent to the 1963 March on Washington, which was organized by Bayard Rustin. Dr. King was the featured speaker. In this role, Black was one of the most influential figures in the struggle.
Rev. Deppe gained acclaim in 1967 when he stood behind Dr. King at the signing of a covenant between the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation Breadbasket and the Jewel Tea Company. Deppe helped broker the agreement that led to Jewel agreeing to increase the number of black workers.
Reverend Morris was Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, from 1973-1976 which is based in Atlanta.
Rev. Oglesby said the celebration represents a rare opportunity to meet iconic civil rights heroes who were Dr. King’s partners in the movement and who remain drum majors for justice
“These leaders believed in King and sacrificed their lives for the higher goal of achieving equality for all,” Oglesby said.
Wanda Bishop, minister of music at Park Manor Christian Church and Caleb Bunton, 12, will celebrate Dr. King’s life musically.
Primus J. Mootry, former executive director of the Better Boys Foundation in Chicago will emcee the event. Mootry is now chairman of the board of the Anderson Impact Center in Anderson, Indiana, and he is a columnist for the Herald Bulletin newspaper in Anderson.
Dr. King, an Atlanta native, was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. He also was president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a leader of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. and he was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 1963. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At 35, he was the youngest person in history to be awarded the Nobel Prize.
For more information about the conference, call Sylvia Jo Oglesby at (773) 710 4263.