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The original item was published from 1/11/2019 8:37:00 PM to 1/23/2019 12:00:00 AM.

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Posted on: January 11, 2019

[ARCHIVED] Aurora 2019 MLK Day Celebration Focuses on Service and Empowerment



Sixty-five years ago in 1954, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - a young preacher in his twenties - began his role as senior pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. It was in Montgomery where King became the national leader of a movement that would empower generations yet unborn. Sixty-five years later, as the nation celebrates the annual Martin Luther King holiday, another twenty-something senior pastor dedicated to serving and empowering the community will serve as keynote speaker during this year's citywide King Day celebration in Aurora.

The City of Aurora and the Aurora MLK Planning Committee will host the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration – A Day of Service, A Day of Hope – at 6 p.m. on Monday, January 21, 2019, at East Aurora High School, 500 Tomcat Lane.

An innovator, visionary, and emerging thought-leader possessing wisdom far beyond his years, Pastor Teddy Matthews, senior pastor of Empowerment Church, will deliver a special message about the importance of service to the community. One of the most sought-after speakers in the greater Chicago area, Matthews launched Empowerment Church in the western suburbs to reach people, restore hope, and revive a generation. His popular ministry and weekly sermons are energetic and empowering. Matthews is an award-winning pastor, motivator and mentor who has been empowering youth in Aurora since his undergraduate years at Aurora University.

The ceremony will also feature performances by students from East Aurora, Metea Valley, Waubonsie Valley, and West Aurora High Schools, and the Illinois Math and Science Academy with inspiring contributions from the Cathedral of Grace St. John Church's Sign Singers and more.

Aurora residents will be honored with the Donna J. Williams Service Award for their participation in the MLK Day of Service and local student-leaders will receive Mayor Richard Irvin’s Service Above Self Awards for their year-round efforts to give back to the community.

"This year, we celebrate what would have been the 90th birthday of Dr. King, and we’ll commemorate his life by shining a spotlight on those who are serving our community," said Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin. "This also marks the first year that Aurora City Hall will be closed on MLK Day to honor the legacy of Dr. King. We are very proud of this significant milestone in our city's history.”

Last summer, the Aurora City Council passed Resolution R18-172 approving Dr. King’s observed birthday on the third Monday of each January as a paid designated holiday for all City of Aurora staff. On Tuesday, August 28, 2018 – the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington where King delivered his historic 'I Have a Dream' speech - Mayor Irvin was joined by community members to sign the resolution into law.

This occasion and others will be featured during the 2019 MLK Commemoration which is free and open to the public.

More information is available at


Aurora students are encouraged to model Dr. King's example of service by volunteering during the 2019 MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 21, 2019.

Sign-up at to serve at one of the following locations: Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry, Aurora Public Library - Eola Branch, Aurora Public Library - Santori Branch, Aurora Public Library - West Branch, Elmwood Terrace Rehabilitation Center, Greenman Elementary School, Hesed House, SciTech Hands On Museum, Simmons Middle School, Sunnymere Senior Housing or Symphony of Orchard Valley.

After participating in the Day of Service, volunteers will be recognized in the evening at the Annual MLK Commemoration at 6:00 p.m. at East Aurora High School, 500 Tomcat Lane.

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