Dr. King's legacy celebrated in Chicago

January 14, 2013 5:40:02 AM PST
With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day just over a week away, celebrations of his legacy took place Sunday night.

Some of those include memories of Dr. King's work here in Chicago.

It's been nearly 50 years since Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech called for an end to racism in the United States.

Much has changed since then.

Sunday, many of the city's black elected leaders gathered to celebrate Dr. King's birthday, in a Chicago neighborhood that for a short time housed king and his family.

For 30 days in January of 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King called Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood home as he sought to call attention to the housing crisis in the African American community.

So it's only fitting that Sunday's tribute, attended by many of the city's black leaders, began with a bus tour of what is now the Dr. King Legacy Apartments, an affordable housing complex built over the land where Dr. King once lived.

"Dr. King would holler down at us and say. 'How are you all doing? Are you coming to the meeting tonight?'" said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Illinois).

Following the bus tour, which included several other sites associated with Dr. King, hundreds gathered inside west Garfield's New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church.

The service included remarks by Congressman Davis and 37th Ward Alderman Emma Mitts.

"Our children hear of it," Mitts said. "But Dr. King was real. The stories are real. When we talk of him we need to feel the passion. The struggle and the accomplishment of what he stood for."

Sunday's celebration was held a week early because many of those in attendance will be in Washington D.C. next week for another historic milestone In African American history.

"Barack Obama will be inaugurated for his second term on Martin Luther King Day. It doesn't get any better than that," said Rev. Marshall Hatch, New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church.

Still, for all the progress that's been made, those in attendance said the struggle goes on and Dr. King's message of non-violence is an relevant as it's ever been, especially in this nation's inner cities. The solution, they say in the young people.

"When young people are energized then that means social change will come. So our hope is that young people will take this message away that it's really time to live our potential and prepare for futures, not funerals," Rev. Hatch said.

Congressman Davis said it best: Martin Luther King's legacy is hope and dreams, adding, "You can do anything in the world you set out to do, if you apply yourself."