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Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week


"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."

-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Sunday, January 14

Chicago Sinfonietta’s “Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: PULSE"

Wentz Concert Hall
3 p.m.

Join the Chicago Sinfonietta in their annual MLK Tribute Concert, PULSE, as they pay homage to the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a captivating lineup of works that celebrate the power of perseverance, triumph, and hope. Experience the dynamic "Overture from Treemonisha," Scott Joplin's classic opera, reimagined for the orchestra by Gunther Schuller. Then, prepare to be moved by the stunning performance of Xavier Dubois Foley's "Victory" Concerto, featuring the masterful double bassist Foley (left), whose virtuosic playing and musicality are sure to leave you breathless. Next up is the mesmerizing "Montgomery Variations" by Margaret Bonds, conducted by the one and only Mei-Ann Chen, a work that showcases the beauty and complexity of Black spirituals and folk songs. This piece celebrates the resilience and perseverance of Black Americans in the face of adversity and serves as a fitting tribute to Dr. King's message of hope and perseverance. Throughout the concert, the Chicago Sinfonietta will pulsate with energy and emotion, delivering a powerful performance that will leave you inspired and uplifted. Don't miss this unforgettable tribute to Dr. King and the enduring spirit of the human experience.

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Xavier Foley

Monday, January 15 - MLK Vision Day

Wentz Science Center and Kiekhofer Hall
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The public and the entire North Central College community are invited to attend events to celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

This year's theme, "Normalcy, Never Again!" focuses on Dr. King's goals of peace and justice. 

11 a.m.  Welcome

Join us for a warm MLK Day welcome and a soul-stirring performance by North Central’s own student choral group Voices of Praise. Let's kick off this special day with unity, reflection, and the uplifting power of music. 

11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.  Teach-in Session 1

Listen, learn and engage in conversations about race, anti-racism, equity, and inclusion: 
The Psychology of Black Girls: No, We Don't Have an Attitude. 
Presenter: DeJanae Phillips '23, graduate student  
Room: 101 

Explore the intersection of culture and psychology in this enlightening session. While psychology is instrumental in understanding mental health and development, it often operates through a predominantly white lens, inadvertently perpetuating stereotypes. This session aims to spotlight the significant contributions Black individuals have made to the field of psychology and shed light on the repercussions of cultural incompetence and stereotypes. 

Specifically, we will delve into the impact of these issues on Black women, who are at risk of incorrect diagnoses due to systemic biases. Join us as we navigate through the complexities of cultural perspectives in psychology, fostering a greater understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusivity in mental health practices. Together, we'll explore avenues for creating a more culturally competent and equitable approach within the realm of psychology.

Turning Words into Action: A Workshop on Inclusion and Equity 
Presenter: Jennifer Shah, assistant professor of education  
Room: 104 

In his book, "The Inclusive Mindset," author and activist Justin Jones-Fosu highlights ways to make inclusion and equity actionable in our lives instead of just something that we talk about or engage in slacktivism with. Professor Shah will focus specifically on Chapter 5, titled "Circles of Grace: Why we see people and events the way we do and what to do about it." This session will briefly review the ideas in the chapter and then include discussion and exercises for the audience to participate in. The new year is a perfect opportunity for all of us to set new goals regarding equity and inclusion and how to move both forward in our personal and professional lives.  

Roots and Respect: Acknowledging the Land We Stand On  
Presenter: Raygn Jordan ‘24, undergraduate student  
Room: 254  

Explore the call for a transformative shift in values from a material-focused to a people-centric society. Echoing Rev. Dr. King's advocacy for prioritizing people over profit and property, this theme aligns with the spirit of Land Acknowledgments. These acknowledgments aim to honor and recognize the Indigenous peoples whose land we inhabit, emphasizing a collective commitment to valuing people over possessions. 

NCC Sankofa: Exploring and Understanding Our Past to Empowering Our Futures
Presenters: Tahbata Zuniga Diaz ‘24 and Jaydon Brown ‘25, undergraduate students 
Room: Stevenson Hall  

Discover firsthand the transformative student experiences on the NCC Sankofa trip! Join us to hear compelling stories of cultural exploration and personal growth as Tahbata and Jaydon share their journeys. Additionally, learn how to be part of this enriching experience and contribute to the tapestry of shared wisdom. Don't miss this opportunity to explore, learn, and connect—be inspired to join this exclusive opportunity for students.  

Harmony of Change: Marian Anderson, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Power of Music
Presenters: Henry Pleas, adjunct instructor of music; Susan Chou, assistant professor of music 
Room: Koten Chapel 

Immerse yourself in the captivating story of Marian Anderson's iconic concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, orchestrated by Eleanor Roosevelt to protest racial discrimination. Discover how 10-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. was profoundly impacted by this event, leading to the realization of his dream manifested in the historic "March on Washington" in 1963. 

Join Henry Pleas and Susan Chou in an experiential presentation featuring music from these transformative moments. The session includes insightful commentary on how each person can challenge norms that contradict our values and contribute to positive change using their unique gifts. 

Explore the intersection of music, history, and social justice as we delve into the enduring legacy of Marian Anderson and Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial. This experiential session encourages us to reject "normalcies" that go against our principles and embrace truths that stand for what is good and right.

Wentz Science Center

12:30 to 2 p.m.  Prayer Luncheon and Keynote

Our 2024 MLK Prayer Luncheon keynote will be given by representatives from Illinois Poor People's Campaign. These passionate speakers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in advocating for justice, equity, and the rights of the marginalized. Their powerful words will resonate as we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and renew our commitment to building a more inclusive and compassionate society. 
Be prepared for an uplifting afternoon filled with prayer, reflection, and a call to action.

2:15 to 3 p.m.  Teach-in Session 2

Listen, learn and engage in conversations about race, anti-racism, equity, and inclusion: 

Decomposing Norms: Fostering Equity in Teacher-Student Relationships 
Presenter: Paige Arendt ‘24, undergraduate student 
Room: 101 

Explore the crucial topic of White teachers instructing Black and Brown children in this enlightening presentation. Tackling the theme of "normalcy, never again," the session sheds light on prevalent power dynamics in schools, where white privilege is sometimes wielded against students of color. The overarching goal is deconstructing these norms and cultivating equitable, anti-racist school environments.

Delve into the complexities of discipline in schools, recognizing its potential to widen the gap between teachers and students. With a focus on teaching Black and Brown children, the session emphasizes the importance of educators being conscious of the impact of their words and disciplinary actions. Discover practical insights and suggestions aimed at empowering teachers to adopt an equity-minded and inclusive approach in their interactions with students of color. Join us in reimagining education as a catalyst for positive change and dismantling ingrained power dynamics in the classroom.

Love in the Shadow of Racial Capitalism 
Presenter: Sean Butorac, assistant professor of political science 
Room: 104 

Explore the overlooked connection between love and social change in the Black political tradition, particularly in the critiques of capitalism by thinkers like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and James Baldwin. While love is often discussed in terms of personal transformation, this session delves into how it directly informs social change. Examining love in the context of critiques of capitalism aims to reveal its potential as a revolutionary force, disrupting the foundational myth of racial capitalism and advocating for new economic relationality and reciprocity.

Education as Empowerment: A Call to Unfinished Work  
Presenter: Juan Martinez ‘23 
Room: 254

In this compelling spoken presentation, we will explore education as a powerful tool for mobilizing, organizing, registering, and empowering change. Delve into the transformative potential of education as we question the ethical responsibilities of those with the privilege of higher education, considering that only 7% of the world's population holds this opportunity. Using NCC as our shared educational space, we'll discuss how learners, researchers, and future professionals can collectively become changemakers across disciplines. 

The presentation aims to inspire critical thinking, challenging the audience to reflect on their roles in perpetuating systems of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. Through examples such as the school-to-prison pipeline, the Tuskegee experiment, and environmental racism, we'll explore how each discipline can contribute to positive change. Ultimately, the session seeks to motivate the audience to actively dismantle these oppressive systems, answering the call to the unfinished work of the Poor People's Campaign.

Voices Rising: Equity at the Table 
Presenter: Lexis Ellis ’23 
Room: 256 

Join recent North Central alum Lexis Ellis for a facilitated dialogue on the theme of "Being invited to have a seat at the table." Explore the dynamics of inclusion and equity, particularly for individuals from diverse backgrounds, such as people of color, non-binary individuals, and members of the queer community in spaces dominated by others. Students and faculty/staff will share personal experiences, discussing how they navigated such situations, gained confidence to use their voices, and ultimately contributed to more inclusive conversations. The session aims to provide actionable takeaways, empowering individuals to build confidence and ensure that those traditionally overlooked at the table have a voice.

The Racist Reality of Nostalgia 
Presenters: Nicole Mendez-Villarrubia ‘25, undergraduate student; Steve Macek, professor of communication; and Shereen Ilahi, associate professor of history 
Room: Stevenson Hall 

Nostalgia is often used to persuade the public that certain values or ways of life are worth returning to. This panel will explore how racism is often a driving force behind nostalgia. How do we examine the past with a critical lens and use that to shape the future? Join us for an interdisciplinary conversation, followed by a short Q&A.

A logo with people holding up signs in protest.

3:15 to 4 p.m.   
Closing Keynote: "Collective Liberation: From Theory to Praxis”

Our 2024 MLK Vision Day Teach-In closing keynote speaker will be Raven Schwam-Curtis, a dynamic full-time content creator, keynote speaker, and recent Northwestern University graduate. Raven’s research delves into intersectional histories, with a keen focus on Black and Jewish relationality. Featured in Glamour magazine, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Buzzfeed, Raven’s work online unpacks the possibilities of the digital humanities and the exciting ways they allow us to learn. 

Please RSVP for any or all events.


Contact Karl Constant, assistant director of multicultural affairs 

Raven Schwam-Curtis

More MLK Week Events

Tuesday, January 16

"Faith & … " Community action with Bob Burkhart
11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

NCC's Volunteer and Community Engagement Fair
11:40 a.m.

  • NAMI DuPage (mental health)
  • Giving DuPage (county coalition)
  • DuPage Senior Citizen's Council (food insecurity, social wellness)
  • Habitat for Humanity (housing insecurity)
  • Community Access Naperville (developmental disability)

Thursday, January 18

Honoring Civil Rights Leaders
Harold & Eva White Activities Center Multicultural Student Center
12 – 2 p.m.

Possible showing of Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power documentary followed with discussion

MLK Schedule of Events

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at North Central

North Central College strives to grow in diversity, equity and inclusion through the work of our faculty and staff, the openness and honesty of our students, the support of our alumni, and the continuing commitment of the entire North Central community. Share our journey with us and discover how we are working to be the change and become a true college of destination.

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