Jacksonville, Ill. – Illinois College and the City of Jacksonville will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 20, by coming together as a community with a full day of activities to honor the Civil Rights leader.
“I believe we should remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he made an unselfish sacrifice of his time, his safety and ultimately, his life for those beliefs,” Eric Robinson, president of the Jacksonville NAACP, said. “I believe that very few experiences are new. Most are modified by the use of different strategies to make them more durable and more convenient, but many major ideas/experiences are from our past or history. Dr. King should be remembered just as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Founding Fathers of our nation are remembered.”
The day will begin at Hamilton’s for the annual Unity Breakfast from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. with special guest speaker Margaret Ann Florence. Tickets to the breakfast can be purchased through the Mayor’s Office for $10 at 217-479-4610. Following the breakfast, a Freedom March from Mt. Emory Baptist Church to Community Park will begin at 9:15 a.m.
“This day is important in many ways; it is to honor Dr. King and his
leadership, showcase and teach our youth his efforts, and to celebrate
the many strides he made. But also for those who may not know each other
or walk in the same shoes to come together and unite as a community,”
Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard said. “This day for me has never been a
black or white event, it has been a day of meeting new and seeing old
friends of all colors and denominations and blending together as one.”
The day will continue with critically acclaimed author and NAACP Image Award recipient Sheyann Webb-Christburg speaking at Illinois College at 11 a.m. in Rammelkamp Chapel. She was the youngest civil rights activist at the age of nine and was nicknamed by King as “The Smallest Freedom Fighter.” Webb-Christburg became the youngest activist on the historic 50-mile Selma-to-Montgomery March of 1965 which was a pivotal moment in the modern civil rights movement. The title of her speech is “Sheyann Webb-Christburg: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Youngest Freedom Fighter.”
Introducing Webb-Christburg to the campus community will be Joel Harmon ’66, Illinois College Alumni Trustee. He will also be speaking to student organizations and guest lecturing as part of the College’s Martin Luther King Day festivities. Harmon is a retired chemist and director for Shell Oil Company.
During the evening, Mt. Emory will have a special church service from 5 to 7 p.m., and then the day will wrap up with an event hosted by the Black Student Union at Illinois College from 8 to 10 p.m.
“As a person living in the United States, it is the responsibility of every generation to understand our history and how our history has helped shape who we are today. Martin Luther King Day allows us to reflect on events that occurred, learn from mistakes and improve as needed,” Rev. David Stewart, senior pastor, at Mt. Emory, said.
For more information contact Justin Mallett, director of diversity at Illinois College, at 217-245-3271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.