Every year, King invites guest speakers to help us honor Martin Luther King, Jr. This year, we were pleased to host Sarah Lewis, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, for our US students, and Morris Ervin, Motivational Speaker and Youth Development educator as well as Gabby Rivera, a queer Latinx author living in Brooklyn, NY, who is the writer of the new Marvel series America - featuring the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero, for our MS students.
The topics of diversity and inclusion discussed on MLK Day are an important part of our curriculum. At King, we are guided by the School's Mission, Diversity Policy Statement, and Virtues of Integrity, Kindness, Perseverance and Respect; and, as one of our many guiding documents expresses, "King values a community in which each individual strives for the wisdom and goodness found in a deep understanding of equity, fairness, and inclusion." The celebration of Dr. King's legacy serves as a valuable reminder of the importance of being an inclusive community and regularly embodying the best of who we are. We are able to learn and grow as a community because of these events.
On January 11, Sarah Lewis, addressed our US students and faculty during a morning assembly. The topic of Ms. Lewis' discussion centered on why images are playing an increasingly crucial role in Civil Rights in contemporary life. She examined the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. as it relates to current issues. Following the presentation, a group of student leaders conducted a Q&A panel in the PAC followed by Core Conversations and reflection in the US classrooms.
"I think that the MLK events were really a great opportunity for the King community to come together and discuss the difficult, but important conversations that are essential for our school and our society. I thought Ms. Lewis's keynote was fascinating and eye-opening. The use of the core conversation groups as breakout sessions further strengthened what Ms. Lewis said and deepened the discussions of the day. Overall I have to say that this was a great day for the King community. My main takeaway is that we still have a lot more work to do to make our world and school a more inclusive place, but I think King is making strives to achieve this goal," Luke Buttenwieser '19.
On January 19, Gabby Rivera and Morris H. Ervin, Jr. presented to MS students. In Life Skills and English classes, MS students have been delving into the topic of identity as we explore, using developmentally appropriate methods for each of the respective grades, the different ways that characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation play a role in shaping who we are. Ms. Rivera and Mr. Ervin helped us further these ongoing discussions, focusing in particular on inclusion and identifying how these interrelated topics play a role in civil rights today - topics that stem from the core of Dr. King's legacy of equality and shared respect. Students gathered in small groups for follow-up discussions after the two presentations.
"I think the day went very well and both of the speakers were very inspiring. Some things that I took away were that you identity is something that you can decide from yourself. If someone tries to give you an identity, it is up to you to decide whether you want it or not. Life is a "game", and you have to figure out what is the objective of your game. Something else that I thought was powerful was when Mr. Irving told us that if you don't challenge yourself and step out of you comfort zone, then life's game becomes boring. This has influenced me into tackling challenges with less reluctance and more enthusiasm," Gouri Krishnan '23.
"Ms. Gabby Rivera offered a great opportunity for kids of all races, genders, sexualities, and etc. to feel like they are not alone in the sense that it's okay to be who you are. I also believe that it was great having kids be active during the second talk, really including the students and encouraging them to get up on stage and tell their own story, and not be judged. In my opinion, the day made everyone feel included and really opened students eyes to different situations, whether it be a situation at home or different gender identities and sexualities," said Rebecca Laramie '22.