Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To mark the birthday of the visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., each division held a special Assembly in his honor. Below is a summary of each.

Lower School
To supplement their learning inside the classroom, Head of Lower School Thérèse Cruite began the division-wide Assembly by showing students an array of photographs of Dr. King – from childhood, college, marriage, to his leadership in the Civil Rights movement – and sharing words that come to mind when thinking of him, including ‘Leader,’ ‘Nobel Peace Prize Winner,’ ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ and ‘Changemaker,’ among others.

Underscoring that “words hold great power,” Class 1 students shared a few of their own words that can help encourage and influence others. ‘Kindness,’ ‘Brave’ and ‘Included’ were among those mentioned with one student presenter saying, “I chose ‘Included’ because Dr. King believed we should all be included no matter the color of our skin.”

Director of Equitable Practices Dr. Carolyn Ash followed with a read aloud of the call-and-response poem “Drumbeat for Change,” by Kelly Starling Lyons, with students repeating the phrases “I Matter!” and “We will create change.”  

Up next to the microphone were Class 2 students, who shared reasons that Dr. King inspires them. “He didn’t let challenges stop him from doing what is right,” one said. Class 3 followed suit and offered ways that young people can continue Dr. King’s important work such as through marching, writing petitions and standing up for others.

Kindergarten students closed out the Assembly with a special performance. They incorporated movements into one of Dr. King's famous speeches to reflect each of his "key words" including 'Love,' 'Self-Respect,' 'Freedom,' 'Commitment,' ‘Beauty,’ and 'Justice.' After performing for their peers, the rest of the Lower School joined in.

Parents and visitors can experience a taste of our LS Assembly by scanning the QR code located on the first floor bulletin boards.

Middle School
Prior to their Assembly, all students in Classes 4-7 led a silent march throughout the MS halls, inspired by the Children’s March of 1963 – which they learned about in-depth during Advisory – when Black children from ages 7-18 left school to march peacefully in opposition of segregation.

Students from each grade held a sign of their own creation to indicate what they were marching for or against. Some examples included marching for equal rights, healthcare for all, equal education, mental health support and animal advocacy. On the opposite end of the spectrum, students indicated they were marching against bullying, gun violence, hate crimes and smoking.

Once seated inside the Assembly Room, students enjoyed a spectacular performance to Soweto Gospel Choir’s “Umbombela” by their Class 7 peers. Our Middle School chorus also sang a beautiful rendition of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black National Anthem.

“It’s important to know why we have off next Monday,” said Head of Middle School Mary Rafferty, emphasizing Dr. King’s dedication to racial equality. “Young people can – and will – make a difference,” she reminded and encouraged them. “I hope you feel empowered and inspired.”

Upper School
Our Upper School Assembly, led by our DEIB student leader and two Class 12 BLAC Affinity Group leaders, began with a visit from our MS Chorus, who again sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

After sharing important events and accomplishments in Dr. King’s life, the seniors discussed in greater detail the history of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the role women played in its success, specifically Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin and the Women’s Political Council. Often helping to lead the charge for equality were “young people and women,” they noted.

When discussing the March on Washington, the presenters referenced Dr. King’s infamous “I Have A Dream” speech and asked to what extent is this dream fulfilled? These students referred to it as a “fractured dream,” noting that Black people still face abhorrent acts of racism and violence. They encouraged their peers and all young people to advocate actively through “commitment, courage and aspiration,” citing Chapin’s motto to listen with compassion and act with courage.

“Failure to take a position does, in fact, give you a position,” they said, with one of Dr. King’s quotes ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,’ illuminated on the screen behind them. “Stay consistent and passionate.”

To wrap up, the seniors shared a few examples of supplementary research and resources for their peers including “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story,” “Martin’s Dream,” by Clayborne Carson; and the movie “Selma,” which depicts the protest march from Selma, Alabama, to the capital city of Montgomery.