Exploring the Lessons of Martin Luther King in Today's World

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Exploring the Lessons of Martin Luther King in Today's World
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Westover celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through activities and programs organized by the School's Rasin Center for Global Justice.


Exploring the Lessons of Martin Luther King in Today's World

The Westover community celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through a variety of activities and programs from January 13 through January 18, organized by the School's Rasin Center for Global Justice.

Eleven students and three faculty members attended a January 13th screening of the Oscar-nominated film, Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play written by August Wilson, who explored the evolving African-American experience in a series of 10 plays set in his native Pittsburgh.

On January 15th eleven students, accompanied by Eric Mathieu, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, attended the 47th Annual MLK Love March in New Haven. The event began and ended at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and featured music and remarks from a number of religious, civic, and government officials. Among those in attendance were both of Connecticut's U.S. Senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

On January 16th, Westover's academic week began with a first period Chapel Service, which included an inspiring talk by guest speaker Deacon Art Miller about his recent experiences visiting sites in Mississippi connected with the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, a childhood friend of Miller's, which helped to inspire his life-long commitment to civil rights and social justice issues. The service also included readings drawn from the words of Martin Luther King and music by Westover's Gospel Choir under the direction of Michael Brown. At that evening's sitdown dinner, organizers distributed lists of facts about Dr. King to spark discussion at the tables among students and faculty.

More than 40 students gathered for a pizza dinner in Red Hall on January 17th to watch a screening of the Oscar-winning Crash, a 2004 film that follows the complexity of racial tensions that affected a cross-section of ethnic communities within Los Angeles. Eric and Rasin Center Director Kate Taylor coordinated the dinner and screening.

The Martin Luther King Celebration concluded with a discussion at the January 18th Peer Support Meeting, where 15 students joined Eric and Peer Support Coordinator Cathie Gemino Hillian '99 discussed the themes introduced by Crash as well as other social justice issues.

One of the goals of the Rasin Center, Kate noted, is "continuous education and community conversation around diversity identifiers – ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status/class." Planning a series of events centered around the legacy of Dr. King was exciting, Kate added, because "this meaningful schedule included unique activities, all aiming at continuing dialogue and active participation in, specifically, the racial issues of our contemporary society."

Eric added that the range of activities offered served as "a good conversation starter that I hope will inspire a dialogue to continue among students and other members of the Westover community" about race and social justice issues.