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Mayor Lightfoot and City Leaders Commemorate the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the City’s 35th Annual Interfaith Celebration


Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot virtually gathered with civic, business and religious leaders this weekend to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the City of Chicago’s 35thAnnual Interfaith Celebration. This year’s ceremony featured keynote speaker, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of the City of Atlanta, and the 2021 Chicago Community Healer Honorees: Lawndale Christian Health Center, The Chicago Community Trust, and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.

Each year, the City of Chicago hosts the ceremony to honor Dr. King, and to reflect on his accomplishments, impact on American history and the work ahead. During the program, religious leaders of different faiths led prayers of unity and healing. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to adhere with the public health guidance, the City of Chicago transformed the event into a virtual celebration.  

“For us here in Chicago, Dr. King’s birthday is always a special moment because it gives us an opportunity to not only reflect on his legacy, but our progress toward bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “And after the year we’ve had—a year that made many of us feel as though we’d lost ground in our pursuit of justice and equity—we especially need the nourishment of Dr. King’s vision of unity and healing. As we march forward into a better tomorrow, these values will continue to guide us and provide the tools we need to face our challenges with strength and compassion.”

This year’s keynote speaker,Keisha Lance Bottoms, is the 60thMayor of Atlanta, Dr. King’s hometown. Mayor Bottomsis a fearless public servant who is committed to realizing her vision of One Atlanta – an affordable, resilient and equitable city. She has held positions in all three branches of government, serving as a judge and City Councilmember before being sworn in as Mayor in 2018. Among Mayor Bottoms’ notable accomplishments, in 2020, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law awarded Mayor Bottoms the Distinguished Civil Rights Advocate Award in recognition of her equity-driven leadership to help guide and protect marginalized communities.

“This past year has reminded us of the hard work we still must do to fully address the injustices and inequities plaguing residents across our country,” said Mayor Bottoms. “Dr. King faced what at times seemed to be insurmountable odds, yet he persisted. By turning to and implementing the lessons of unity and resilience Dr. King left with us, we have the power to make our country a better and more equitable place. Today’s celebration of his legacy makes me even more proud to be from and lead his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you to Mayor Lightfoot for the honor of being this year’s keynote speaker.”

To commemorate Dr. King’s legacy of fighting for social justice, peace and universal human rights, the City of Chicago honored three community organizations that have manifested that work. Lawndale Christian Health Center, The Chicago Community Trust, and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago were honored as the 2021 Chicago Community Healer recipients for leading the push for citywide healing.

“In 1966, while residing in North Lawndale, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King declared, ‘Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman.’ We count it a privilege and divine calling to partner with our city and our neighbors to tackle this injustice,” said Rev. James Brooks, Vice President of Mission and Community Engagement at Lawndale Christian Health Center. “Our team has worked tirelessly to care for the most vulnerable during this pandemic – those experiencing homelessness, suffering from substance use disorder, and lacking equitable access to affordable healthcare. We are deeply humbled and thank Mayor Lightfoot for this recognition in honor of Dr. King’s legacy.”

“On behalf of my colleagues and our partners who work tirelessly on behalf of families and communities most impacted by COVID-19, we are honored to receive this recognition from the City of Chicago,” said Helene Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. “It is inspiring to work in a city that exemplifies Dr. King’s words that ‘Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.’ This moment amplifies the importance of this work and provides unprecedented opportunity to ensure an equitable and just recovery.”

“We are deeply honored to be recognized by Mayor Lightfoot and the City of Chicago for our role in the very important work of racial healing,” said Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. “The impacts of racism are deep and far reaching and we are committed to developing solutions that will result in healing, empowerment and equity.”

The celebration included a musical performance by the Chicago Children’s Choir. The virtual program premiered Friday, January 15 and can be viewed at

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