The Upper School has been engaging in a series of programs throughout remote Wednesdays focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and defining what inclusive academic excellence means at King. All US students and staffulty read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson as a summer read, and discussions were held in advisory groups.
“Bryan Stevenson has been an important teacher in my life since he published what has rightly become this contemporary classic. His work inspired me to drive the Civil Rights Trail on a faculty sabbatical grant in the summer of 2019, when I had the opportunity to visit the offices of the Equal Justice Initiative, the Legacy Museum, and the powerful National Memorial for Peace and Justice - all of which are located in Montgomery, AL. Bringing his insights to the King learning community, I’ve witnessed colleagues and students alike light up with new understanding about both the problems of racial bias and other inequities within the criminal justice system, as well as an urgency to lean into the possibilities of building healthier institutions. My students in the Upper School have been particularly responsive to the stories about people even younger than themselves being incarcerated in adult prisons. It’s uplifting to witness their generation engage so meaningfully with material in the classroom, citing data and generating policy proposals to remedy wrongs in the real world. Sharing Just Mercy as a community at King has yielded new experiences of what we do best here: preparing students to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. As Stevenson says, “There is recovery waiting...but we can't get there through silence.” - Elizabeth Messinger, Upper School English Faculty
All of the US staffulty and students played Factuality: The Game, a role-playing activity through which participants learned about how structural inequality based on race, class, gender, faith, sexual orientation, age, and ability can drastically affect an individual's opportunities in American society. The experience and follow-up discussions foster empathy, increase cultural competence, and enhance self-awareness. The same groups also attended a presentation from RFK Human Rights that explained the concept of universal human rights, which laid the groundwork for the launch of a project to explore our own King community and analyze the ways in which our culture and protocols can be more equitable and in line with our mission.