Students and faculty dedicated nearly the entire school day to highlighting and discussing issues of social justice.
The annual celebration, which ran from 8:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., focused on the theme of “Speaking, Hearing, and Opening Up Together: ‘How and why do we stand up in the face of resistance and adversity?’” The event began with three hours of performances in the Fonseca Center gymnasium. Individuals and small groups took the stage to bring light to issues including racism, environmental justice, privilege and more through dances, poems, videos and personal anecdotes.
Shamira Guillaume ’21, a diversity ambassador and co-president of Onyx, the School’s club dedicated to celebrating black and African American culture, presented with fellow Onyx members on individuals who have been exonerated after wrongful convictions.
“If you give people new information, hopefully that will open up their perspective and give them the opportunity to think about their actions and the way the world works in general,” said Guillaume, not just alluding to her own presentation, but to the full range of topics covered during the day. Audrey Corrigan ’20, who performed with the dance group MUSE, echoed a similar sentiment. “It was really powerful. I like that we are able to honor intersectionality and involve issues like environmental racism and different intersectional experiences.”
After lunch, during which students were encouraged to sit with students or faculty that they don’t know in an effort to further bring the community together, students and faculty gathered for break-out sessions. Topics included “Is Dr. King's Message Still Relevant Today?,” “LGBTQ+ High School Experiences: Then & Now,” “Environmental Justice and Racism” and a range of other issues.
Tyler Conway ’20 attended a break-out session about women who have stood up in the face of adversity and explained one of his takeaways: “There were a lot of women I had never heard of, and they all made very impactful contributions to society. There are a lot of very important people who are overlooked.”
Guillaume, who facilitated a session on wrongfully convicted individuals, explained: “It’s a learning experience for all.”
The special event, spearheaded by Director of Equity and Inclusion Karen Brown, takes place each year around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and is an opportunity for the upper school community to discuss current social justice issues and to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the many others who brought about change during the American Civil Rights Movement. “Something that I love most about Masters is the way that the community is able to be vulnerable together,” Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Eric Shear said. “I think no day embodies that more than our Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. I hope that students and faculty see this as just the beginning of strong and courageous conversations.”
The celebration of Dr. King will continue next week, when the Middle School gathers to honor his work and legacy on Tuesday, January 21.