Activist who worked with King will headline annual breakfast at Benedictine

December 16, 2016

Lisle, Illinois ~ Ernest E. Gibson, Ph.D., will be the featured speaker at the 22nd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast co-hosted by Benedictine University and the College of DuPage (COD) on Monday, January 16. Gibson, who knew King, will reflect on his own experiences with the Civil Rights Movement and the challenges of maintaining and improving civil rights today.

The breakfast, which will honor the legacy of the late civil rights leader and celebrate diversity, will be held from 8:00-9:30 a.m. on the second floor of the Krasa Student Center at Benedictine University at 5700 College Rd. in Lisle.

Gibson, born to Bahamian parents in Dania Beach, Fla., and raised during the era preceding America’s Civil Rights Movement, was taught the importance of family, hard work, education and community. It wasn’t until after graduating from Tuskegee University that he participated in activism.

Working with King to plan the Selma March, the March on Washington, D.C., and the Montgomery and Birmingham Campaigns, movements and boycotts organized to bring attention to integration efforts by African-Americans, left a lasting impression on him. While hatred, bigotry and violence shadowed these events, they only increased Gibson’s love for mankind, which he notes is the true lesson taught by King.

Gibson became an instructor at his alma mater, and later served as director of the Student Union and associate director for Student Life at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff before accepting the position of special aide to Lt. Gen. Joseph H. Harper, commanding general of the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Ga.

In 1966, he was the first African-American hired by the newly chartered COD as an executive director of business services. He is a founding member of the DuPage A.M.E. Church in Lisle and served as president of the DuPage County Branch of the NAACP. He was appointed by former Illinois Gov. James Thompson to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Council and is a recipient of the Medgar Evers Award. Gibson continues to actively serve his community.

The event will also feature musical performances by pianist Anthony Perry, a student at COD, and vocalist Tyisha Brown, who is the sister of Perry.

Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., M.F.A., president of Benedictine University, and Ann E. Rondeau, Ph.D., president of COD, will join Gibson for a breakout session at 9:30 a.m. in Goodwin Hall addressing diversity in higher education.

Benedictine and COD will also announce the recipients of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. scholarships. Two students from each school will receive $1,000 awards based on an essay detailing how King’s ideas impacted their lives and how they influence others based on his teachings.

Tickets are $30. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund.

For more information and tickets, call the McAninch Arts Center at (630) 942-4000 or visit www.cod.edu/mlk.

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Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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