College's Many King Tributes Rise above Sophomoric Name Nonsense

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 18, 2003 | Go to article overview

College's Many King Tributes Rise above Sophomoric Name Nonsense


Byline: Burt Constable

Most of North Central College's myriad tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. take place in the White Activities Center.

In a juvenile, sophomoric and maybe even a tad disrespectful display, I laughed when a copy editor alerted me to the irony of our greatest black leader being feted in a building known as the White Activities Center.

"Jay Leno would agree with you," admits Carrie Fleszewski, associate director of public information for the Naperville college. The late-night host of the "Tonight Show" recently used the college's center as a punch line.

"African-Americans get no respect," Leno quipped while holding up a schedule of events at North Central College. "This is the African-American alumni reunion and look where it's being held - at the White Activities Center."

There is, of course, no racial element to the White Activities Center, Fleszewski notes. The building is named in honor of 1935 graduates Harold and Eva White. The Whites, former publishers of The Naperville Sun, were great supporters of education and the arts. Now deceased, the Whites donated countless time and energy, and more than $12 million of their family fortune, to the college, Fleszewski says.

The College Union was renamed the Harold and Eva White Activities Center in 1983, but that title often gets shortened to the White Activities Center. Students take it even a step further.

"On campus, it's just fondly known as WAC," notes Fleszewski, her professional nature totally quashing my juvenile inclination to start making "WAC" jokes.

While late-night comics and lowly newspaper folks enjoy the black-white humor, the name rarely confuses people.

"I think I've had one complaint in 10 years," says Fleszewski. She squelched that simple misunderstanding with a quick explanation that White is a name and not a requirement to partake in the center's activities. For a complete listing of the college's events honoring King, visit the Website www. …

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