Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to speak at Jan. 15 MLK Celebration

Massachusetts Governor and South Side native Deval Patrick will deliver the keynote address at the University of Chicago’s Martin Luther King Celebration at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Rockefeller Chapel was the site of one of King’s first major speeches in Chicago in 1956. Since 1990, the University has celebrated King’s legacy with keynote addresses by prominent leaders and innovators. Previous speakers include President Barack Obama in 2002 and Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada in 2012.

Patrick has deep ties to the South Side of Chicago and the Washington Park community, where he was raised by his mother and grandparents in an apartment near the corner of 54th Street and Wabash Avenue. At a dedication ceremony in June 2013 for the honorary Deval Patrick Way on Wabash Avenue, Patrick remembered his neighborhood as a place where “every child was under the jurisdiction of every single adult on the block.”

At 14, he won a scholarship to Milton Academy, a prestigious preparatory school in Massachusetts. Patrick, who was the first member of his family to attend college, went on to graduate from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

After law school, he clerked for a federal judge, served as a staff attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and joined the Boston law firm Hill & Barlow.

President Clinton appointed Patrick Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, the nation’s top civil rights position, in 1994. After leaving the Department of Justice, he held senior executive positions at Texaco and Coca-Cola.

Patrick was elected governor in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. He is the first African-American governor of Massachusetts.

Patrick’s address is part of the University’s diversity awareness initiative, RISE (Reflect, Intervene, Speak, Engage). RISE encourages all members of and visitors to the University of Chicago to challenge assumptions about the role of race, gender, sexuality and other aspects of identity in the intellectual community.

Other events taking place in honor of King include the University Community Service Center’s annual MLK Day of Service on Saturday, Jan. 18 and a seminar and bus tour on King’s legacy hosted by civil rights leader Timuel Black. 

Patrick’s speech at Rockefeller Chapel (5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.) is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The speech also will be webcast at UChicago Live.