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Diversity & Inclusion Celebrate the Legacy of MLK Jr.

On Thursday, January 12, students and faculty honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with several presentations on MLK's message of inclusivity. Grades 9 and 10 heard from Kiera Allen and Youth Motivational Speaker, Morris Ervin. Grades 11 and 12 heard from New York Times Columnist Charles Blow as he presented 'The New Civil Rights Movement, From Martin Luther King Jr. to Ferguson.'

Presentations included:

  1. Kiera Allen, "Where Do We Go From Here?" Continuing the work of being an inclusive community - Ms. Allen, an eighteen-year-old speaker, writer, actor, and singer from Dobbs Ferry, New York. Ms. Allen graduated from Dobbs Ferry High School in 2016. She is taking a gap year before attending Columbia College of Columbia University, where she plans to study creative writing and theatre arts. She started doing public speaking at schools in 2015 in order to open channels of communication about disability. Since becoming a wheelchair user in 2014, she has seen widespread discomfort and lack of awareness about disability, and the consequent misconceptions affect her on a daily basis. She aims to start a dialogue with other young people on the subject of disability, so that they may view disabled people through a lens unclouded by stigma or fear.

  2. Morris Ervin - an educator, entertainer, motivational speaker, and Youth Development Professional committed to helping the youth, families, communities, and institutions "turn fear into strength, and pain into passion." Morris's assemblies are interactive performances that tell stories about being inclusive. He invites students to come along for the journey of a lifetime that's filled with music, entertainment, storytelling, history, and possibility. Afterwards, he will engage the audience in a discussion that will help them connect to the moral of the story and apply it to the King community.

  3. Charles M. Blow, "The New Civil Rights Movement: From Martin Luther King Jr. to Ferguson" - Mr. Blow is the Visual Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, where his weekly column appears every Saturday. Mr. Blow's columns tackle hot-button issues such as teen pregnancy, the national debt, the presidential race, gender roles, and the gay rights movement. Blow joined The Times in 1994 as the paper's graphics editor; during his tenure he led the publication to win awards for work that included its information graphics coverage of 9/11 and the Iraq war. Mr. Blow is a CNN contributor and also often appears on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He has appeared on Andrea Mitchell Reports, Hardball with Chris Matthews, CNN's American Morning, Headline News' The Joy Behar Show, Fox News' Fox and Friends, the BBC and Al Jazeera, as well as numerous radio programs. Mr. Blow stressed our need to consider the fullness of MLK's historic message while also embracing the newness of the emerging of civil rights movement springing forth from young activists today.

"This was a wonderful way for us to come together as a community to celebrate the legacy of a great man. Each speaker put his/her own spin on Martin Luther's King's message of inclusion, in fact challenging students to think critically about the importance of maintaining an environment built on respect and kindness," added Keeniun Brumskill, Director of Diversity.

Student leaders followed up on Thursday's events with a student-led debrief on Friday morning during Advisory sessions. The Facilitators met with Grade 9 and 10 using a series of questions and quotes from the previous day's events to engage fellow classmates in group dialogue.

Crystal Ssonko '17 lead a student discussion on Friday morning and commented on Thursday's presentation, "Charles Blow is a wonderful eloquent speaker and I am very thankful that I got to participate in interviewing him. He was able to simplify the ideas of the civil rights movements in the 60's and connect them with the movements we see in today's society."

Brandon Ross '17 adds, "Helping facilitate these speakers and fostering discussions among students was a great experience. It's important to step back take a broader view of our world and its issues."

"Throughout history there has been some separation. But today I have seen in the audience the hope that we are generation that will end that separation. And that it shouldn't matter the color of your skin, your religion, you gender, etc. - we have to be there for each other, support each other, we have to link together and put us on the same playing field." - Hannah Berrick, '19

We wish our entire community a peaceful and relaxing Martin Luther King Jr Day and a wonderful long weekend.