Chicago Churches Prepare to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr., this Month

Minister Mark Sanders, gives the invocation before the Martin Luther King Celebration Concert at Main Baptist Church on Sunday, January 20, 2013 at Main Baptist Church in Aurora IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media

Minister Mark Sanders, gives the invocation before the Martin Luther King Celebration Concert at Main Baptist Church on Sunday, January 20, 2013 at Main Baptist Church in Aurora IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media

For two Fox Valley residents, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy has had an impact on their personal and spiritual lives. As tribute, they are sharing his influence by commemorating his life in their churches.

The Rev. Juancho Campañano and Cynthia Miller reflect on the importance of celebrating King’s legacy in churches and religious institutions especially.

Main Baptist Church, Aurora

The bus burning in Anniston, Ala., in 1961 was not just a news headline to Aurora resident Cynthia Miller, it was a neighborhood tragedy. Growing up in Anniston, Miller experienced firsthand the effects of the Jim Crow laws and segregation.

“We knew in a sense that we were in a segregated situation, and we went to segregated schools,” Miller said. “It was different in that you knew what your ‘place’ was back then, if that’s what you want to call it.”

As one of the first black teachers to be integrated into a predominantly Caucasian school, police officers constantly patrolled the hallways. She never knew what to expect.

“That was really scary,” Miller said. “I had to keep my purse and books right by my desk because I never knew when there was going to be a bomb threat, and we would have to move out of the classroom.”

One day, she was even the target of a suspected threat in an all-white class she taught.

“I had a student indicate that he was going to ‘protest’ the teacher,” Miller said.

Luckily, another student did the right thing.

“One of the students … left out and came back with a policeman,” she said. “He knew that the other student had a weapon, and he was afraid that he was going to use the weapon on me.”

The young man was arrested and spent about a month in jail for the threat, according to Miller.

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Source: Chicago Sun Times | Jasmine Young For Sun-Times Media