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Talk by Civil Rights/Peace Activist to Honor Dr. King’s Legacy

Diane Nash featured in a week of events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Civil rights and peace activist Diane Nash to deliver MLK Jr. keynote address Jan. 25
  • Kellogg’s Nicholas A. Pearce main speaker at Jan. 18 Candlelight Vigil at Millar Chapel
  • Northwestern students to recite orations inspired by MLK at both campus keynote events
  • Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa to speak on South Africa's transition

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Legendary civil rights and peace activist Diane Nash and Nicholas A. Pearce, an ordained minister, Northwestern alumnus and Kellogg professor whose research examines values-driven leadership, diversity and inclusion, collaboration and change in organizations around the world, will be the featured speakers at Northwestern University’s annual commemoration of the life and legacy of the late civil and human rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

The weeklong 2016 celebration begins Jan. 18. Northwestern has suspended classes Monday, Jan. 18 on the Evanston and Chicago campuses for a University-wide, full-day observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That evening Pearce will speak at the Alpha Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Candlelight Vigil at Alice Millar Chapel.

Pearce, a Northwestern alumnus, is clinical assistant professor of management and organizations at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and assistant pastor of the historic Apostolic Church of God on Chicago’s south side.

Nash’s keynote address, on Monday, Jan. 25 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, will conclude Northwestern’s 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration. The 6 p.m. program also will feature music and performances by Northwestern student groups. Earlier in the day, at noon, that day, Nash will address Northwestern faculty, staff and students on the Chicago campus. Both events are free and open to the public.

Nash became involved in the nonviolent civil rights movement in 1959 in Tennessee, when she was a college student in Nashville. Nash, a Chicago native who had never experienced segregation in public accommodations prior to moving to the South, went on to become one of the civil rights movement’s pioneers. She was a leader and strategist of the student wing of the 1960s civil rights movement. Her campaigns were among the most successful of the era. In 1960, Nash became the chairperson of the Fisk University student sit-in movement in Nashville, the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters.

In 1961, Nash coordinated the Freedom Ride from Birmingham, Ala., to Jackson, Miss. She also played a key role in bringing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Montgomery, Ala., on May 21 of that year in support of the Freedom Riders. That memorable journey was documented in the recent Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) American Experience film “Freedom Riders.”

Also Monday, Jan. 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Northwestern students will engage in a variety of service projects throughout Evanston and Chicago during the University’s annual Day of Service. Students also will have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences during lunch that day. Volunteer registration is currently at maximum capacity, however, information about additional volunteer opportunities in Evanston is available online.

The Chicago Campus has scheduled two days of service for Northwestern students, Friday, Jan. 22 and Saturday, Jan. 23, at various locations to help keep King’s legacy alive by participating in one of the many service projects planned in celebration of his life and work. RSVP here.

Jan. 18 also is Eva Jefferson Day on the Evanston campus. The Eva Jefferson Civil Rights Program brings 50 to 70 Chicago and Evanston middle school students to campus to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The program's committee organizes a full day of arts and crafts activities, speakers for the students and discussions about King’s legacy. Northwestern student volunteers act as mentors for the children. The program was established in 2003 by Associated Student Government (ASG) President Rachel Lopez.

The following Martin Luther King Jr. Day events on both campuses are free and open to the public.


  • Campus Observance: Candlelight Vigil featuring Nicholas Pearce, 7 p.m.Monday, Jan. 18, Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Rd. Keynote speaker Nicholas Pearce, clinical assistant professor of management and organizations at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and a Northwestern alumnus. The sign language interpreted event will include musical performances by Northwestern student groups. A reception will follow. The Candlelight Vigil is hosted by the Alpha Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
  • Justice and Constitutional Rights: Democracy in South Africa After 22 Years, 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20,Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, Room 107. In the first of two talks, Justice Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa will offer a personal account of South Africa's transition from an oppressive racist autocracy to an inclusive democracy under the world's most progressive constitution. He will offer reflections on the most notable successes as well as the biggest failures as a nation, long divided by wealth and race and carrying heavy burdens from the past, grapples to secure its path forward under constitutionalism and the rule of law. Cameron also will be the featured speaker at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, in the McCormick Foundation Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, Evanston. In a conversation with Douglas Foster, associate journalism professor at Medill. Cameron will discuss South Africa’s constitutional commitment to freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media. Cameron also will give a rare first-hand account of the exciting and sometimes daring decisions handed down by South Africa's highest court. Cameron’s visit is sponsored by the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.
  • Evanston Campus Observance: Keynote Speaker Diane Nash, 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive. The University-wide observance will feature music and performances by Northwestern student groups and a keynote address by civil rights and peace activist Diane Nash. It is a sign language interpreted event. Tickets are not required. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m.
  • Harambee, 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, Norris University Center, Louis Room, 1999 Campus Drive. “Harambee” in Swahili stands for “pull together.” This annual Evanston campus get-together features performances, presentations and free food. It is co-sponsored by African American Student Affairs (AASA) and For Members Only: Northwestern’s Black Student Alliance. Free and open to the public.

More information on Evanston campus events is available online.


  • Chicago Campus Student Oratorical Competition, noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, Arthur Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave, Room 150, Aspen Hall. Three Northwestern students from the Chicago campus will recite their orations inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The winner will have the opportunity to recite their speech at the Jan. 25 Chicago campus MLK commemoration keynote event at Thorne Auditorium. Lunch will be provided. RSVP required. Visit the Chicago Oratorical Contest page for more information on contest guidelines.
  • “Fighting for Justice: A Conversation with Craig Futterman,” noon, Thursday, Jan. 21, Rubloff Building, Room 150, Aspen Hall, 375 E. Chicago Ave. Guest speaker Craig Futterman is founder of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project at The University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Much of Futterman’s career has been devoted to police accountability. He also was instrumental in the Freedom of Information Act litigation that ultimately resulted in the release of the Laquan McDonald video that sparked weeks of protests. His candid conversation will focus on Chicago’s long-time struggle for equity in policing and the role the law can play in bringing injustice to light. Lunch will be provided. The event is presented by the Chicago campus DREAM committee.
  • Dream Week Reception, 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, Thorne Lobby, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, 375 E. Chicago Ave. The reception is co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association.
  • Film screening of “3 1/2 minutes, Ten Bullets,” 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, Thorne Auditorium, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, 375 E. Chicago Ave. The screening will be preceded by a 5 p.m. reception in the Atrium. The film follows two individuals whose lives intersected and were forever altered. On Black Friday 2012, two cars parked next to each other at a Florida gas station. A white middle-aged male and a black teenager exchanged angry words over the volume of the music in the boy’s car. A gun entered the exchange, and one of them was left dead. Michael Dunn fired 10 bullets at a car full of unarmed teenagers and then fled. Three of those bullets hit 17-year-old Jordan Davis who died at the scene. Arrested the next day, Dunn claimed he shot in self-defense. Thus began the long journey of unraveling the truth. Candescent Films’ “3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets,” follows that journey, reconstructing the night of the murder and revealing how hidden racial prejudice can result in tragedy. Alisa Holman, aunt of Jordan Davis, will give brief opening remarks and will answer questions after the screening. The event is co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association.
  • Keynote Address by Civil Rights Activist Diane Nash, noon, Monday, Jan. 25, Rubloff Building, Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago Ave. Nash will address members of the Chicago campus about the connection between civil rights, law and health. Her address is co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association. Lunch will be provided. RSVP here.

More information on Chicago campus events is available online.