March 14, 2012

“Can I Live” celebration set for March 20

by Christi Mathis

Corey Brooks

Corey B. Brooks, Sr.

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- No matter who you are or where you’ve come from, it is possible to overcome and succeed.  That’s the message of the second annual “Can I Live” rally and celebration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on March 20.

The event, free and open to students, faculty, staff and community members, kicks off with a Unity March at 6 p.m.  The march begins outside Grinnell Hall and ends at the Student Center Ballrooms, where the rally starts at 7 p.m.  The first 200 participants to arrive at the march will get “Can I Live” T-shirts. 

The theme is “A Celebration of Overcoming Adversity.”  The goal is to inspire everyone to heightened sensitivity regarding the adversities others face, and to encourage people to overcome their obstacles and celebrate life to the fullest, according to Byron Lee Madison Jr., president of Speaking and Teaching.  The registered student organization is teaming with the Gamma Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. to sponsor the celebration. 

The celebration of life rally will feature a diverse group of presentations, including guest speakers and performances of poetry and praise dance.  Speakers, including University students, will highlight a variety of topics.  They’ll talk of living a full life in a wheelchair as well as surviving and overcoming rape, gang violence, bullying, domestic violence and more.  They’ll also discuss freedom, growth and body image.

Corey B. Brooks Sr. is the keynote speaker.  A pastor, businessman, philanthropist and songwriter, he began his preaching career in Richmond, Ind., at 23 and a few years later went on to pastor in Chicago.  Founder of the New Beginnings Church of Chicago in late 2000, Brooks recently spent three months living on the roof of an abandoned motel in an anti-violence occupation intended to raise $450,000 to buy the land and tear down the building.  The goal was to replace a building that had become a haven for illegal activity with a community center.   The effort began after Brooks buried many young men from his community who were lost to South Side violence.  The rooftop vigil ended in February after 94 days when actor/director Tyler Perry pledged to donate nearly $100,000 and numerous other donations poured in. 

Pamela Smoot, assistant professor of Africana Studies and history, will speak as well.

Community and campus organizations that provide helpful services will also be represented and share handouts highlighting their programs and services.  Those attending can find out more about the Counseling Center, Saluki Cares, Saluki Lifesavers, Jackson County Heath Department, The Women’s Center, GLBT Resource Center and others.

The Can I Live rally will be an inspirational and enlightening experience, said Ryan Reed, vice president of Speaking and Teaching and public relations director for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.