Cicero Commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday
Unlike other communities that mark the birthday of civil rights leaders the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., only with a day off from work, The Town of Cicero also hosts a community-wide celebration at its Community Center. This year marked the 10th Anniversary of Cicero’s King Commemoration event.
For the 10th year in a row, the Town of Cicero has commemorated the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., celebrating his fight for civil rights and diversity at the Cicero Community Center on Thursday Jan. 11.
Although many government agencies and municipalities commemorate King’s birthday by closing for the day, the Town of Cicero has taken the holiday one step further by organizing annual commemoration events to recognize King’s contributions to Chicago and the country.
Town President Larry Dominick said that the Town of Cicero is proud of the diverse activities it offers to everyone in the town, including festivals, commemorations and cultural events honoring all of the community’s ethnic and racial groups.
“We acknowledge everyone in our community, When I was first elected Town President, there were no events commemorating King’s birthday. But I believe in diversity and respect of all human beings, regardless or race, ethnicity or religion. I felt that King’s message of respect was important not just to the country but to our community here in Chicago’s West suburbs,” Dominick said.
“King’s message for tolerance is a lesson taught to school children in our schools. It’s important that they not only learn about King but see his principles of justice and equality actually at work in the communities where they live. Whether they are Black, Hispanic, White or of other races or ethnicities, the message King represents is important to us all.”
Ismael Vargas, the Town of Cicero Chaplain and pastor in the Town of Cicero, opened the event with a prayer and discussion of the importance of faith in King’s message. Vargas chairs the Town’s Clergy Committee which includes all of the churches and religious institutions in the town, including several African American churches that have been showcased as keynote speakers at past King events.
The event emcee was Kal Lwanga, who is also African American and serves as President Dominick’s executive assistant.
“We’re very proud to again host this commemoration in memory of Dr. King’s struggle to bring equality not just to African Americans, but to all Americans,” Lwanga said.
“Cicero is unique among communities. We don’t just take the day off as a holiday but we bring together many people to present the importance of what King meant to all citizens.”
The commemoration included recitations of King’s writings and speeches from guests from local schools and churches in the community.
About 20 students from Wilson School’s 5th grade class read excerpts of King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.
Students from the Morton East High school Cultural Diversity Club recited essays they wrote about the importance of King to the community and they discussed how King’s promotion of diversity and inclusion helped to unite people.
Also attending were town officials including Supervisor Joe Virruso, Collector Fran Reitz, Assessor Emilio Cundari, and Town Trustees Dennis Raleigh, Victor Garcia, Larry Banks and Bob Porod.