Underwood at NCC’s MLK Prayer Breakfast

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U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood came to North Central College to give the keynote address for the Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast.

North Central College students, faculty, and members of the Naperville community rose bright and early to be at the annual event.

Usually, the college brings in an alumnus to speak. But this year, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood delivered the keynote address, reflecting on Dr. King’s words that have inspired her.

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the staircase, faith, he said. And that’s what it felt like when I first ran for office, I could not see the whole staircase. I couldn’t even see more than a few steps in front of me. So it took a little faith,” said Underwood.

The newly elected congresswoman is the youngest black woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was invited to the campus by a professor, and a recent North Central College grad helped make it happen.

“One of her assistants, Ashley Clayton, is an alumna of the college and graduated in 2018,” said NCC Director of Multicultural Affairs, Dorothy Pleas. “She was able to help coordinate the visit.”

Following Congresswoman Underwood’s speech, the college chaplain closed with a prayer.

“Make us uncomfortable with the status quo, put us at disease with the norms of our society, and let us go out with divine dissatisfaction,” preached Reverend Eric Doolittle. “Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds, and an anemia of deeds.”

MLK Day rings a historical bell at North Central College too. Dr. King visited the campus in 1960, gave a speech in Pfeiffer Hall, and later met with students and faculty.

Next year, North Central College will cancel classes on the morning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to emphasize the service aspect of the holiday.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.