The University of Chicago News Office
Jan. 13, 2006 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
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Valerie Jarrett anchors University of Chicago tribute to Martin Luther King

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valerie jarrett
Valerie Jarrett

Valerie Jarrett — managing director and executive vice president of the Habitat Company, chairman of the board of the Chicago Stock Exchange and a member of The University of Chicago’s Board of Trustees — will deliver the keynote address at the University of Chicago’s annual memorial service honoring the life and work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The service is open to the public and begins at noon Monday, Jan. 16 in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.

Jarrett joined the Habitat Company, a real estate development and management company, in 1995. Before that she served for eight years in the City of Chicago government, first as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development, then as Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard Daley and finally, as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development.

She served for eight years as the Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, the body that oversees the business of the Chicago Transit Authority, the provider of daily bus and train service to 1.5 million people in the City of Chicago and 38 suburbs. In addition to her work with the Chicago Stock Exchange, Jarrett also currently acts as Vice Chairman of both the University of Chicago Hospitals Board of Trustees and the Executive Council of Metropolis 2020. A lifelong South Sider, she is president of the board of the Southeast Chicago Commission.

“It is an extraordinary honor for me to speak on a day that commemorates a man who dramatically changed the course of history,” said Jarrett, who is also a member of the board of trustees of the Museum of Science and Industry and Window to the World Communications. She served as finance chair for the 2004 campaign for now U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and currently works as treasurer for Obama’s PAC, the Hopefund.

“We wanted a keynote address by someone who truly understands and values King’s contributions to society, as well as someone who understands the City of Chicago and the University of Chicago and our surrounding community,” said Ana Vazquez, Deputy Dean of Students at the University of Chicago and Director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. “Valerie Jarrett is a perfect fit. Not only does she understand our community but she brings with her a deep understanding of the local and national issues that still plague our country and community.”

While Jarrett’s speech is the keynote address, this year’s commemoration began Monday, Jan. 9 and does not conclude until Thursday, Jan. 19. The following is a list of the commemoration’s events. All are open to the public and, except for Court Theatre’s production of “Fences,” are free. For more information on any of these events, visit or call the Office of Minority Student Affairs at (773) 834-4672.

  • MLK Week 2006 Opening Ceremony

    Monday, Jan. 9 — 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St. University faculty, staff and students, as well as community leaders from across Chicago will convene on campus to open this year’s commemoration. Provost of the University of Chicago Richard Saller will deliver opening remarks. Bishop Arthur Brazier, pastor of the Woodlawn community’s 12,000 member Apostolic Church of God, will speak as well.

  • Injustice Perpetuated: Healthcare Disparities in the Civil Rights Era and Today

    Tuesday, Jan. 10 — noon to 1 p.m. in Room 109 of the Biological Sciences Learning Center, 924 E. 57th St.

    King once said that, “of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.” In an effort to further the conversation on the status of King’s vision for America, this lecture and discussion will explore the past and present reality of disparities in healthcare. Dr. Quentin Young, who served as King’s physician in the 1960s and practices medicine today in Hyde Park, will be among the speakers.

  • Crash: A Viewing and Discussion

    Wednesday, Jan. 11 — 7 to 9:30 p.m. in Room 109 of the Biological Sciences Learning Center, 924 E. 57th St.

    The evening will begin with a screening of the critically acclaimed film “Crash,” set in L.A. over a 36 hour time period in which a diverse group of people collide “at the speed of life.” The film will be followed by a discussion led by filmmaker Yvonne Welbon, Visiting Lecturer and Visiting Scholar in the Committee on Cinema & Media Studies.

  • Realizing the Dream or Living the Nightmare?

    Thursday, Jan. 12 — 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the International House, 1414 E. 59th St.

    University of Chicago scholars — including Judy Wu, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and an associate professor at Ohio State University, and Gerald Rosenberg, Associate Professor in Political Science — will critically examine the past, present and future of King’s legacy in the United States from a number of academic perspectives.

  • Roots & Rhymes II: A Multicultural Celebration

    Friday, Jan. 13 — 7 to 9 p.m. in the International House, 1414 E. 59th St.

    Artists from the University community and across Chicago will gather for an evening of cross-cultural artistic expression through music, poetry, spoken word and hip hop performances. Soul Poetry Café, a jazz and spoken word ensemble, will be among the performers. Desserts and beverages will be served.

  • Day of Service

    Saturday, Jan. 14 — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    The University Community Service Center sponsors a day of service titled “A Day in the Life of a Child.” There are various locations and activities. For more information, e-mail

  • August Wilson’s “Fences”

    Sunday, Jan. 15 — 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.

    Tickets to Court Theatre’s production of one of the late playwright’s most celebrated works are on sale. Call Court at (773) 753-4472 or visit for more details.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day Service and Reception

    Monday, Jan. 16 — noon to 1 p.m. in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.

    Join Jarrett as she speaks about King’s legacy, and then attend a reception with her from 1 to 3 p.m. in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St. Musical ensembles Funkadesi and Soul Umoja will be among the performers, and a tribute to Rosa Parks will be included.

  • Revisiting the Dream in the Aftermath of Katrina: Race, Class and Politics

    Thursday, Jan. 19 — 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the School of Social Service Administration, 969 E. 60th St.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist William Raspberry will moderate a panel discussion on the impact of Hurricane Katrina, government and community responses, and a reflection of King’s dream in the aftermath of Katrina. Panelists include Waldo Johnson, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, and Michael Dawson, the John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science.
Last modified at 10:28 AM CST on Friday, January 13, 2006.

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