One of 'Little Rock Nine' to deliver speech

CHAMPAIGN — A member of the "Little Rock Nine" will deliver the keynote speech at the 2013 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Countywide Celebration.

The 12th annual event will be begin at 4 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1501 S. Neil St., C. The event is free and open to the public.

Ernest Green was one of the nine who were escorted by soldiers from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division in 1957 to become the first black students to attend class at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. The following spring, he was the first African-American to graduate from Central. He will serve as the keynote speaker at the countywide celebration.

The event will feature entertainment by Barrington Coleman and the Mo' Betta Music Program, and others will be honored for their service in the local community, according to a press release.

Tori Exum-Johnson is set to receive the Doris Hoskins Prestigious Community Service Award, which honors individuals who "engage in outstanding volunteerism."

The Community Elements Crisis Line will be recognized with the James R. Burgess, Sr. and Susan Freiburg Humanitarian Award, which is given to individuals or organizations that "improve the human condition by alleviating suffering and contributing to the basic human dignity of those in need."

Francis Ihejirika will receive the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Outstanding Achievement Award, which honors those who "work for social justice in the spirit of Dr. King."

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