The C-U community and beyond will celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. next weekend with a full slate of activities beginning with the annual celebration at Vineyard Church in Urbana. The celebration will honor the work of community service and social justice efforts in Champaign County, and is hosted by the City of Champaign, the City of Urbana, the Village of Rantoul, Champaign County, University of Illinois, and Parkland College. Here's info about the award recipients this year:

Alissia Young will receive the Doris Hoskins Prestigious Community Service Award, First Followers has been selected to receive the James R. Burgess, Jr. Award, Susan Freiburg Humanitarian Award, and Seon Williams will be awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Outstanding Achievement Award.

The first recipient, Young, a social worker at Champaign-Urbana Dialysis Clinic, is the current president and a lifetime member of the National Council of Negro Women, Champaign County Section. She serves as the City of Champaign’s Human Relations Commission Chair. She is also a member of the Ministerial Alliance of Champaign-Urbana & Vicinity, serves as an election judge, and received her credential as a deputy voting registrar.

Additionally, First Followers is a community-based organization that operates a drop-in center whose mission is to build strong and peaceful communities by providing support and guidance to the formerly incarcerated, their loved ones, and the community as a whole.

Finally, Williams is an incredibly successful entrepreneur with a wide variety of numerous accomplishments, businesses, awards and distinctions over his career, which, in one way or another, have been used as a vehicle of awareness to better the community with resources, support and development.

In addition to the awards ceremony, there will be a keynote address by Rev. Dr. Michael Pfleger, who has been an influential activist in Chicago, focusing on gun violence prevention. The event will be January 18th from 4 to 7 p.m. (program begins at 5 p.m.) and is free and open to the public. 

You can also participate in the weekend celebration with the Service of Celebration at Krannert Center on Sunday evening.