DuPage event highlights King’s Chicago connection

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Photo by Bernard J. Kleina

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, left, appear in Chicago’s Grant Park in a 1966 photo that was on display in Wheaton.

by Catherine Guiles
Jan 22, 2008

Perusing a photo exhibit at the People’s Resource Center in Wheaton on Monday, Jimella Anderson-Fields remembered marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago as a student at Malcolm X College.

“It was satisfying, but sometimes it was a little scary, being surrounded by violence,” the Glen Ellyn resident said. “You heard the onlookers, how they hated the idea that you were there.”

The exhibit featured photos of protest marches during King’s visits to Chicago in 1965 and 1966, taken by Wheaton resident Bernard Kleina. It was part of an open house that drew about 50 people to the resource center, a nonprofit human services agency.

“When you see a documentary on Dr. King, the focus is on the South,” Kleina said. And yet, “Dr. King said he never saw such a violent reaction in people as he saw in Chicago.”

The photos, depicting marches against housing discrimination and King’s speeches at Soldier Field, were paired with quotes from the slain civil-rights leader.

The center also held discussions on ending war, poverty and racism. Executive Director Mary Ellen Durbin said those were among King’s greatest concerns.

The fact that the center is serving more and more people shows King’s goals have yet to be accomplished, Durbin said.

“Maybe we need to be asking, 40 years after Dr. King, why are more people relying on food pantries?” Durbin said.

The photo exhibit served as a learning opportunity for some local children.

Sylvie Resch, of Wheaton, brought her daughters Valerie, 11, and Emily, 13, and their friend Heather Young, 11.

“I thought it was appropriate that they realize what the day’s about,” Resch said. “They’ve been learning about (King) in school.”

Heather said the display “made you think about all the things in life,” such as how people should treat others.

After reading King’s quotes hanging from the ceiling, Valerie picked out her favorite: “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.”

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