Northwestern held its 44th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight Vigil at the Alice S. Millar Chapel and Religious Center on Sunday night. The Alpha Mu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Northwestern’s Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) worked with NU administration to organize a program dedicated to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work through songs and speeches.
Rev. Dr. Reginald W. Williams Jr., the vigil's keynote speaker, spoke on the importance of continuing King's true legacy, not just a legacy the public can most easily digest.
“In the words of Audre Lorde, this is the country that has stood on the wrong side of every liberation struggle on earth, and this is the country that, when King brought up those matters and those issues, this country killed him,” Williams said during his speech.
Other speakers included Alpha Phi Alpha members Matthias Nobles, Dayo Babatunde, Kendall Wright, Marc Montgomery and Andrew Pinkston. The Rev. Kristen Glass Perez, University Chaplain and Executive Director of RSL, and the Rev. D’ana Downing, Assistant University Chaplain, also spoke.
RSL Director and Professor Kent Brooks led musical performances with Bienen fourth-year Olivia Pierce. Brooks premiered his original rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with Pierce on vocals. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and is now referred to as "The Black National Anthem," according to the NAACP.
Following the speeches and performances, Montgomery named this year’s recipients of the MLK vigil scholarship: Isaac Abbey, Riley Morris and Malachi Ramsey.
Before Downing closed the vigil with a benediction, Perez and the Alpha Phi Alpha brothers joined her in moving through the chapel to light the candles of those in attendance.
“This is an opportunity for us to kind of force people to come together and remember Dr. King’s life,” Nobles said. “Not just his legacy, but the ongoing fight that we still have today.”