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Virtual Luncheon

North Central College Virtual Luncheon Pays Tribute to MLK

The message of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may have come before its time, but it still rings true in 2022 for the Rev. Dr. Geneace Williams.

“This is a day and time we dare to hope,” Williams said. “We dare to hope many will be inspired to continue the work that in some ways predated Dr. King.”

Williams, the diversity, equity and inclusion manager for the City of Naperville, gave remarks Monday as the keynote speaker at North Central College’s virtual luncheon paying tribute to MLK.

The program was staged as part of the college’s MLK Week festivities, with musical performances, prayer and reflection, scripture reading and a benediction.

North Central College has a long history of celebrating the life and legacy of MLK—a history highlighted by Dr. King’s visit to campus and speech at the college’s Pfeiffer Hall in 1960.

MLK’s Vision

This time, the events share a theme, “Keep Moving Forward.”

In her remarks, Williams stressed that her message is in step with King’s everlasting vision.

“As a student in life, my professional career from attorney to preacher, teacher to consultant and inclusion champion, I continue to be inspired by the message and method adopted by Dr. King and those who journeyed alongside,” Williams said. “Today I believe I am in the right place at the right time.”

Williams encouraged people to take time to reflect on the life and legacy of MLK. She emphasized the importance of recognizing when progress is stalled.

“The only way to move forward from this place of tarry is to recognize at the outset our tarry is out of step with time,” Williams said.

The Movement

But Williams acknowledged it’s too easy to merely point out what’s wrong. She said it’s important to keep moving and have a blueprint to guide the movement.

“‘Keep Moving’ was a regular part of Dr. King’s agenda,” Williams said. “But one speech, in particular, resonates because it was delivered to a group of Philadelphia middle schoolers in 1967. Yes, what we teach the generation that follows us is critical.”

Williams is referring to MLK’s “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” speech.

“Six months prior to his assassination at age 39, Dr. King made time to encourage young people—something, I believe, is indispensable in the work I am privileged to do here in the city of Naperville,” Williams said. “As was in King’s work, every movement ought to make room for and prepare, elevate the voice of the next generation.”

Moving Forward

Williams commented on what she thinks MLK would say if he saw the state of the world as people see it today.

“If he were alive and present with us, he would offer the same advice he did throughout his life’s work: keep moving,” Williams said.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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