Community celebrates MLK’s legacy

News

On Friday, Jan. 18, at 9:00 a.m., students and teachers celebrated the esteemed legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., coming together to listen to and appreciate various student voices on campus.

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Joan Edwards said she wanted to do something different this year. “This school has traditionally had the MLK assembly ever since I can remember,” she said. “This particular year I was trying to think about how to center it towards young people.”

She said that she wanted to find a way to highlight young voices at KO. “Even though we have had a lot of student engagement,” she said, “I wanted to make sure that this was student voices. Young people are the future, and young people are the heart of civil rights movements.”

A number of various students participated in the event. Freshman Amrita Natarajan and freshman Kyalese Hunter functioned as MCs of the assembly. Freshman Olivia Reynolds helped put together the music and initial slideshow presented before the assembly. Senior Matt Safalow gave a thought provoking speech on marginalism in today’s community, drawing inspiration from Dr. King’s writings. Freshman Morgan Siegel shared a heartfelt poem, beautifully portraying her thoughts and emotions through words. Finally, junior Winston Ware delivered his own “I Have a Dream Speech” in which he drew on and echoed MLK’s larger visions for American society.

Olivia said that a lot of thought went in when picking the songs for before the assembly started. “I tried to choose pieces from artists of color to build representation for their music,” she said. “I also chose music from popular movie soundtracks, such as ‘Black Panther’ and ‘The Hate U Give.’ These movies both feature strong black lead characters, giving those actors and actresses a chance to be in the spotlight. They portray a strong message, one I believe to be in line with the one Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting for,” she said. “I chose the last song of the assembly to be ‘Alright’ by Kendrick Lamar, because I thought it gave hope, as he repeats through the song ‘We’re gonna be alright’. Because we are going to be alright, and overcome all the struggles the world is throwing at us.”

Kyalese said this moment was really important for her as she believes Dr. King was a huge part of who she is today. “All my life I’ve been very vocal about how I feel about everything, and to speak in the honor of a man like this is really amazing,” she said. “We wanted to portray a man who ultimately knew the difference between right and wrong. It’s important to remember him because if we forgot about the past, history will keep repeating himself.”

However, Kyalese said that when society glorifies him, sometimes they can forget he is still human and think that we can’t make change the way he did. Instead, she said that she hopes the assembly inspired people to believe that they can make change in society as well.

Amrita said the assembly was an important moment for the community because it was a great way to draw inspiration from a legend in history. “The fact that he was able to do so much for our country is just so inspiring,” she said. “The whole idea of the assembly was to bring people together, and reinforce the idea of how the youth of today can help improve the world.”

Winston said that with his speech, he just wanted to give something valuable, something that would encourage thought. “I wanted to just give my perspective, the essence of it being mostly just having a dream to belong in a place and not have to worry about something going wrong because of the way I look,” he said.

Matt said he wanted to share a little bit from Dr. King’s “The Purpose of Education” speech. “Everyone knows MLK for the civil rights movement, but a lot of people don’t know his other writings,” he said. “It’s important to know about his legacy and the other things he advocated for,” he said.

The community responded with mixed feelings on the whole event. Ms. Solomon said she loved to hear students’ viewpoints and their heartfelt honesty. “I thought everyone was very brave getting up and bearing their soul,” she said. “I admire them. I think it’s very important that we remember what he worked so hard for. We’ve made some amount of progress but not enough,” she said.

Senior Katherine Mikaelson said she agrees that the assembly was a moment worth remembering. “I think it was good that students got to speak their true thoughts to the community,” she said. “The speeches really addressed issues that are stigmatized or ignored on a daily basis.”

Freshman Lucia Volin said she thought the assembly was powerful in the most important way. “It recreated some of history’s best moments in a way that makes it seem relevant to today,” she said.

However, junior Madeline Pelletier said the assembly wasn’t very focused and should have been more educational. “There weren’t very many speakers, and very few of them actually mentioned MLK,” she said.

Sophomore Jane Liang said she agreed that the assembly wasn’t what she had expected. “I didn’t really feel that inspired afterwards since the assembly was a bit off topic and more just students ranting about society.”

Nevertheless, Dean of Students William Gilyard said it is important to remember what Dr. King fought for and believed in. “It’s important to honor the full breadth of what Dr. King has given to us as society.” he said. “It was another opportunity to give kids a chance to express themselves and their truth in a different kind of venue, and it was interesting to see what the kids came up with. It speaks volumes about what his legacy means to them.”

civil rights movement, but a lot of people don’t know his other writings,” he said. “It’s important to know about his legacy and the other things he advocated for.”

The community responded with mixed feelings on the whole event. Ms. Solomon said she loved to hear students’ viewpoints and their heartfelt honesty. “I thought everyone was very brave getting up and baring their soul,” she said. “I admire them. I think it’s very important that we remember what he worked so hard for. We’ve made some amount of progress but not enough.”

Senior Katherine Mikaelson said she agrees that the assembly was a moment worth remembering. “I think it was good that students got to speak their true thoughts to the community,” she said. “The speeches really addressed issues that are stigmatized or ignored on a daily basis.”

Freshman Lucia Volin said she thought the assembly was powerful in the most important way.

“It recreated some of history’s best moments in a way that makes it seem relevant to today,” she said.

However, junior Madeline Pelletier said the assembly wasn’t very focused and should have been more educational.

“There weren’t very many speakers, and very few of them actually mentioned MLK,” she said.

Sophomore Jane Liang said she agreed that the assembly wasn’t what she had expected. “I didn’t really feel that inspired afterwards since the assembly was a bit off topic and more just students ranting about society.”

Nevertheless, Dean of Students William Gilyard said it is important to remember what Dr. King fought for and believed in.

“It’s important to honor the full breadth of what Dr. King has given to us as society.” he said. “It was another opportunity to give kids a chance to express themselves and their truth in a different kind of venue, and it was interesting to see what the kids came up with. It speaks volumes about what his legacy means to them.”

Author

  • Esha is the News Editor for the KO News. She comes to KO from her hometown of Ellington, CT, and is part of the class of 2020. She loves English class, playing tennis and volleyball, and the color dark purple.