Naperville’s North Central College celebrates MLK Day

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Heartfelt performances and uplifting speeches were part of North Central College’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.

“We’re seeing a world where there are more CEOs now who are Black than we’ve ever seen at any point, and we need to keep lifting people up.”

That’s one of many points Tracie Morris shared with the crowd as keynote speaker at the day’s luncheon.

Dr. King visited the college in 1960, speaking to the student body at Pfeiffer Hall. More than 60 years later, the college remembered his legacy.

Morris shares her childhood experiences

Morris, a North Central graduate, and current Chief People Officer for Corewell Health, spoke about her experience growing up on the south side of Chicago and how Dr. King’s teachings impacted her.

“His dream of Black girls and Black boys playing with white girls and white boys, I was living that dream,” said Morris.

But that wasn’t the case for many in her neighborhood, part of why continuing to share his mission is so important to her.

“…it’s very important that we stay connected on diversity, equity, and inclusion. And I want to make sure that we’re reaching people so people understand their role in making change sustainable change,” said Morris.

North Central holds teach-in sessions

Before the luncheon, North Central hosted 12 teach-in sessions that were more conversation based, on a variety of topics. 

North Central undergrads, Olivia Cichowlas and Marissa Rybinski led a session that looked at the timelines of the civil rights and LGBTQ+ movements. 

“I think a big takeaway from our presentation is that the civil rights movement had a large impact on the gay rights movement and the gay rights movement owes a bit of success to the civil rights movement since they used some of the same strategies,” said Cichowlas.

The group took note of what was effective in both.

“One of the most interesting strategies I’ve seen is the form of boycotts and economic protest,” said North Central College Undergrad Marissa Rybinski. “So avoiding buying from certain places or participating in certain city services, because I think that draws a lot of attention, especially to government officials and corporations that can have a large impact on society.”

Morris leaves her final thoughts

Morris said the key thing people can do is to try to enact change in any way possible.

“The most important question is what can you do for others? That’s what Martin Luther King said to us. What can you do for others?” said Morris. “I want everyone to leave here with that in their mind, what can you do for others? The second thing is we’re all included in this journey. So it’s not only about one race, it’s about how all of us can be included in the story and how we can make it better for everybody. What can you do for others, and how can we all be included on that journey? Because that’s how we bring about change.”

Naperville News 17’s Joe Kennedy reports.

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