Jarrett’s King speech to anchor historic MLK celebration at University
By Jennifer Carnig
This year’s celebration of the life and work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will be marked by a first in University history—Martin Luther King Day will be honored as a University holiday for faculty, staff and students. The status of Monday, Jan. 16, as an official holiday means the University community can now attend the annual memorial service honoring King, an event that anchors more than a week’s worth of campus activities.
Beginning Monday, Jan. 9, and ending Thursday, Jan. 19, with a conference featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist William Raspberry, activities will take place across campus commemorating the theme, “MLK in Chicago: Still Realizing the Vision.” The commemoration’s highlight will be Monday, Jan. 16, when Valerie Jarrett, a University Trustee, delivers this year’s King Day keynote address in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.
Jarrett is a managing director and the executive vice president of the Habitat Company, a real estate development and management company. Before joining the Habitat Company in 1995, Jarrett served for eight years in the City of Chicago government, first as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development, then as Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard Daley and finally as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. Prior to her city government service, Jarrett practiced law with two private law firms, specializing in the area of commercial real estate.
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From 1995 to 2003, Jarrett served as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board. The Chicago Transit Authority delivers bus and train service to the City of Chicago and 38 suburbs, providing approximately 1.5 million rides each day.
Jarrett is currently the Chairman of the Chicago Stock Exchange Board. She also is the Vice Chairman of both the University of Chicago Hospitals Board of Trustees and the Executive Council of Metropolis 2020. A lifelong South Sider, she is President of the Board of the Southeast Chicago Commission.
“I have been a part of the University family since the age of 5 when my father joined the faculty of the Division of Biological Sciences,” Jarrett said. “It is an extraordinary honor for me to speak on a day that commemorates a man who dramatically changed the course of history.”
Jarrett attended the University Laboratory Schools, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University and then attended the University of Michigan Law School.
Jarrett is involved with numerous civic and professional organizations, including her service on the board of trustees of the Museum of Science and Industry and Window to the World Communications. She served as Finance Chair for the 2004 campaign for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, and she currently serves as Treasurer for Obama’s PAC, Hopefund.
“We wanted a keynote address by someone who truly understands and values King’s contributions to society, as well as someone who understands the City of Chicago and the University and our surrounding community,” said Ana Vazquez, Deputy Dean of Students in the University and Director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. “Valerie Jarrett is a perfect fit. Not only does she understand our community but she brings with her a deep understanding of the local and national issues that still plague our country and community.”
Vazquez said this year’s celebration of King “is an example of what can happen when we come together as an entire University community.” Membership on the planning committee represents a cross section of senior administrators, staff, faculty and students from all over the University. The number and variety of activities offered this month should be “a source of pride and excitement for the whole community.”
The following is a list of the week’s programs.
- MLK Week 2006 Opening Ceremony — 4:30 to 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 9, in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St.
University faculty, staff and students — as well as community leaders from across Chicago — will convene on campus to open this year’s commemoration. Richard Saller, Provost for the University, will deliver opening remarks. Bishop Arthur Brazier, pastor of the Woodlawn community’s 12,000 member Apostolic Church of God, will speak as well.
- Injustice Perpetuated: Healthcare Disparities in the Civil Rights Era to Today—Noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10, in Room 109 of the Biological Sciences Learning Center, 924 E. 57th St.
King once said that, “of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.” In an effort to further the discussion on the status of King’s vision for America, this lecture and discussion will explore the past and present reality of disparities in healthcare. Quentin Young, who served as King’s physician in the 1960s and who practices medicine today in Hyde Park, will be among the speakers.
- Crash: A Viewing and Discussion — 7 to 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11, in Room 109 of the Biological Sciences Learning Center, 924 E. 57th St.
The evening will begin with a screening of the critically acclaimed feature film Crash, set in Los Angeles, Calif., over a 36-hour time period in which a diverse group of individuals collide at “the speed of life.” Intense and powerful, Crash crosses the heavily patrolled social border between race and humanity. The film will be followed by a discussion led by filmmaker Yvonne Welbon, Visiting Lecturer and Visiting Scholar in Cinema & Media Studies.
- Sights and Sounds of the Civil Rights Movement — 1 to 3 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12, in Room A-11 of the Joseph Regenstein Library, 1100 E. 57th St.
Catch a glimpse of history as the Joseph Regenstein Library provides a slide show featuring images of King and the civil rights movement. A display of newspaper clippings from the time will accompany the show, as well as sound recordings from the March on Washington, King’s funeral and concerts by the legendary singer and musician Nina Simone.
- Realizing the Dream or Living the Nightmare? — 4:30 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12, in the International House, 1414 E. 59th St.
University scholars, including Cathy Cohen, Professor in Political Science and the College; Gerald Rosenberg, Associate Professor in Political Science; and postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture Judy Wu, an associate professor of history at Ohio State University, will critically examine the past, present and future of King’s legacy in the United States from a number of academic perspectives.
- Roots & Rhymes II: A Multicultural Celebration — 7 to 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13, in the International House, 1414 E. 59th St.
Artists from the University community and across Chicago gather for an evening of cross-cultural artistic expression through music, poetry, spoken word and hip hop performances. Soul Poetry Café, a jazz and spoken-word ensemble, will be among the performers. Desserts and beverages will be served.
- Martin Luther King Day of Service — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14
The University Community Service Center sponsors a citywide day of service under the theme, “a day in the life of a child.” There are various locations and activities in which to participate. For more information or to get involved, visit http://communityservice.uchicago.edu or e-mail email@example.com.
- Church services—from late morning through the early afternoon, Sunday, Jan. 15
Visit http://mlk.uchicago.edu for the community-wide listings.
- August Wilson’s Fences — 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15, at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.
Tickets to Court Theatre’s production of one of the late playwright’s most celebrated works will be available at a deep discount to students. Call Court at (773) 753-4472 or visit http://www.courttheatre.org for more details.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day Service — Noon to 1 p.m., Monday, Jan. 16, in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 1156 E. 59th St.
Join Jarrett as she speaks about King’s legacy, and then attend a reception with her from 1 to 3 p.m. Musical ensembles Funkadesi and Soul Umoja will be among the performers, and a tribute to Rosa Parks will be included. The reception will follow the service just next door at Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St.
- Revisiting the Dream in the Aftermath of Katrina: Race, Class and Politics — 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19, in the School of Social Service Administration, 969 E. 60th St.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist William Raspberry will moderate a panel discussion on the impact of Hurricane Katrina, government and community responses, and a reflection on Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream in the aftermath of Katrina. Panelists include Waldo Johnson, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, and Michael Dawson, the John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science. The event is sponsored by the School of Social Service Administration and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture.