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Young adults can fulfill MLK’s Dream

2/23/2015, 10:15 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a revolutionary warrior for peace and justice, and it is up to young adults ...
Dr. David Stovall, associate professor of Educational Policy Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, inspires the crowd of 120-plus high school and college students during his Feb. 17 keynote address at the annual Lewis University Fulfilling the Dream Conference in Romeoville.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a revolutionary warrior for peace and justice, and it is up to young adults to fulfill his dream to address the concerns of the poor and challenge society’s status quo, stated Dr. David Stovall. The associate professor of Educational Policy Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) encouraged the crowd of 120-plus high school and college students during his Feb. 17 keynote address at the annual Lewis University Fulfilling the Dream Conference.

Stovall shared his concerns about the Illinois correctional system and encouraged the students to become advocates for change. He connected youth and women activism with the great movements for transformation in history. Whether it was sitting in the front of the bus in Montgomery, Ala., or a demonstration in Tiananmen Square, youth and females were involved in being the impetus for revolution, he pointed out. He urged the youth in the audience to be advocates for transformation in whatever circumstances they find themselves in life. The Greater Lawndale/Little Village School for Social Justice volunteer social studies teacher suggested that college was a great place to start their efforts.

The entire Fulfilling the Dream Conference was focused on finding success as an African-American in college. College preparation workshops throughout the day focused on thriving in high school, balancing fun and money, career success and navigating a college campus. A Black History Month trivia game also served as an inspirational part of the day.

A successful college experience served as a good foundation for Stovall. He continued on to research four areas including critical race theory, concepts of social justice in education, the relationship between housing and education, and the relationship between schools and community stakeholders. In the attempt to bring theory to action, he has spent the last 10 years working with community organizations and schools to develop curriculum that addresses issues of social justice.

Stovall’s current work has led him to become a member of the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School of Social Justice High School design team, which opened in the Fall of 2005. Furthering his work with communities, students, and teachers, Stovall is involved with youth-centered community organizations in Chicago, New York and the Bay Area.

The Fulfilling the Dream conference draws its name from the great civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had a dream about equality for all people. Lewis University Office of Multicultural Student Services hosts the conference as part of Lewis University’s commitment to the understanding, appreciation and celebration of diversity. MSS works with the university community to provide programs and services that promote the educational, cultural and social growth of all its students in developing cultural competencies. The goal is to facilitate an environment where all students interested in diverse issues are welcome to participate in the programs.

Participants included high school students from Lockport Township High School, Thornridge School in Dolton and Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora. Lewis University students also participated in the day as attendees and leaders of various events.

For more information, contact Miguel Cambray, director of Lewis University Multicultural Student Services, at cambrami@lewisu.edu or 815-836-5538.