Celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King at Rockford’s Nordloff Center


Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. would have celebrated his 90th birthday this year. Dozens of Rockfordians paid tribute to the life of the civil rights icon Monday morning at the Nordloff Center downtown.

“When Dr. King spoke, over 50 years ago, about having a dream, I’m one of those children in his dream,” said Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross.

Hite Ross and Representative Maurice West (D-67th District), both African-American, are the products of Dr. King’s dream, five decades later.

“If it wasn’t for what he sacrificed, not just personally, but within the community, I wouldn’t be here today,” West said.

Educator Karen Portis said the message at this morning’s 2019 MLK Community Celebration was to live a meaningful life.

“What are you doing for others?” she asked rhetorically.

Monday’s celebration was marked with song, dance and speeches.

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D) said, “It is on each of us to re-pledge ourselves to Dr. King’s vision.”

West says the simple fact that he was elected by the citizens of Illinois to serve in Springfield is a huge step forward.

“It’s something that I think about on a daily basis, because I’m young and black, and I am a man. I don’t take it lightly that I was elected by an array of races,” he said.

Hite Ross echoed a similar appreciation for King, saying his contributions mean her dreams have become valid.

“I feel so blessed to stand on his shoulders and the shoulders of the civil rights leaders who gave their lives so children like me could reach their heights and their goals and their potential,” she said.

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