North Central College alumnus Dr. Karl Brooks ’90 spoke to students, faculty, staff and guests about the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy during the College’s annual MLK prayer breakfast Jan. 21.
Dean of student success at Joliet Junior College, Brooks encouraged audience members to reflect on what inspires them—saying King’s legacy is a source of daily inspiration to him.
“We are all benefactors of Martin Luther King’s legacy,” Brooks said. “He calls us all to a higher moral and ethical ground.”
King spoke at North Central College in 1960 and 40 North Central students participated in the historic march in Selma, Ala., in 1965.
Brooks grew up in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, where his family settled after emigrating from Jamaica. As a first-generation college student, he said he found inspiration at North Central by engaging in spirited dialogue with others on campus.
“We as a community need to remember our responsibility to engage students in finding their inspiration,” he said.
Brooks said he finds civil rights leader’s character to be the most inspirational part of King’s legacy. Quoting Dr. King, Brooks said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King’s legacy represents everything good about America.”
At Joliet Junior College, Brooks provides leadership and support to multiple departments, including Counseling and Advising, Career Services, Project Achieve/Student Support Services, Disability Services, The Academic Skills Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Prior to his appointment as dean in 2008, he served as director of the DePaul University Student Leadership Institute and in several administrative positions at North Central College from 1995 to 2001.
Brooks has more than 23 years professional experience in higher education, serving in a variety of leadership roles within the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Regional Four-East Board. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from North Central College, a master’s of science in higher education from Drake University and a doctorate in educational leadership from the DePaul University College of Education.
Brooks has been married for 21 years to Shanitra Winters ’91 Brooks, his college sweetheart. They have two sons, Karl Steven and David Anthony.
Brooks was welcomed at the prayer breakfast by North Central College President Dr. Troy D. Hammond.
“It is my prayer for this campus that we always engage one another with respect,” Hammond said. “North Central has a long and proud history of inclusion in all its forms. We were coeducational from our founding. We welcomed Japanese students throughout our history, including during World War II, and we cherish the memories of welcoming Dr. King to campus in 1960 and sending students to march in Selma in 1965. Today we continue our commitment to inclusion and understanding.”