The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center (630 9th St., Rock Island) will host the 39th-anual Memorial Service and Awards Celebration in honor of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 17, 2022 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The theme for this year’s event is “A Conscientious Stance.”

The Memorial Service will take place in the MLK Center’s Ida Robinson Banquet Room. The event will also be live-streamed via YouTube and Facebook. A recording of the event will be available on the MLK Center’s YouTube channel (MLK Center Rock Island), Facebook page (facebook.com/MLKCenterRockIsland), and website (mlkcenter.org) following the Memorial Service.

The program will include a variety of performances and presentations in honor of Dr. King, including:

  • A keynote address by Thurgood Brooks
  • “I Have A Dream Award” awarded to a Rock Island citizen for outstanding community service
  • M.L. Lockhart Scholarship
  • Black Hawk College Commitment to Diversity Scholarship
  • Youth Expression Contest Awards
  • Musical selections

The Martin Luther King Center is requesting nominations for the “I Have A Dream” Award, which is presented to a Rock Island citizen for exemplary community service and enormous contributions made to the community. Nominations are due no later than Jan. 7, 2022.

In addition, the Martin Luther King Center is requesting advertisements to be presented in a souvenir booklet that will be made available to those who purchase ads and to guests attending the service. The deadline to reserve ad space is Jan. 7, 2022.

Nomination forms; scholarship eligibility criteria and applications; and souvenir booklet ad pricing are available at mlkcenter.org/events. For further information, please call (309) 732-2999. The Rauch Family Foundation has generously granted funds to support this event.

The Martin Luther King Center inspires greatness in the Quad Cities though community-building, education and service. Major programs currently include Substance Use Prevention; Teenage Pregnancy Prevention; Family Advocacy Center; free after-school and summer programs for children aged 6-14; a variety of clubs for people of all ages; free tax preparation assistance; and four annual events for the community.

Born and raised in Rock Island, the son of Terry Brooks and Cynthia Patton, Thurgood Brooks is
a passionate and dedicated advocate for his beloved community, according to his bio.

Thurgood Brooks

He graduated from Rock Island High School in 2011 where he excelled academically and athletically. Thurgood played four years of football serving as team captain. In his lone track season, he was a member of the 2011 state championship team in the 4×100-meter relay.

Upon graduating from Rocky, Brooks attended Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where he walked on the football team. After three semesters, he accepted a football scholarship to William Penn University. Ultimately, he received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University-Macomb, majoring in History with a minor in political science.

Immediately upon graduating from college, Brooks returned home to get to work. He is a community builder and organizer who believes deeply in the power of citizens to create positive change. He has spent his career advocating for youth, businesses, and the development of partnerships for the betterment of our community.

Through his work as a Family Advocate at the Martin Luther King Center; football coach for Rock Island High School and the QC Steamwheelers; banker at Wells Fargo; financial representative at Modern Woodmen; member of the Rock Island Human Rights Commission; member of Rock Island County NAACP; member of the School Health Link board; and founder of two community-driven organizations (Tut Cities Education and Entertainment, and The Resolution), Brooks has been able to work with community partners to bring people together.

Importantly, he emphasizes collaborating with communities, rather than simply speaking on their behalf, his bio said. In the spring of 2021, with the help of a 21-person volunteer team, Brooks received 48% of
the vote in the Rock Island Mayoral race. In 2021, he was named Rock Island Citizen of the Year,
and Community Caring Conference Individual Hero.

He also received the 2019 Rock Island County NAACP Youth Development Image award, and the Rock Island Football Assistant Coach of the Year award (the only two-time winner, in 2019 and 2021), among others.

Throughout the spring and summer of 2021, Brooks worked with the City of Rock Island to establish a Police Community Relations Commission in an effort to improve relationships between the police and citizens.

“Thurgood Brooks believes that inspiration is the best thing you can give someone, and he hopes to inspire others,” his bio says.