Author Brit Bennett Adds Her Voice to Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.
The theme may have been “Unheard Voices” but the message came through loud and clear during the upper school community’s annual celebration to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Thursday, January 14.
“Martin Luther King Jr. talked about unheard voices. Though he stood for peaceful protest, he also spoke for unheard voices,” explained Director of Equity and Inclusion Karen Brown, who spearheaded the day’s events with help from students and faculty.
The keynote speaker was bestselling author Brit Bennett, who spoke about the inspiration for her latest book “The Vanishing Half,” which the Masters community had the opportunity to read. Bennett said her mother’s stories about facing discrimination in a segregated farming town in Louisiana helped with her writing process.“ Her stories reminded me that American racism was neither distant history nor history at all,” she said.
“Brit Bennett was powerful, relatable, humble and humorous. She is an inspiration to all writers and particularly young women of color,” said Eric Shear, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator. "It felt like our whole community was enthralled by her talk and extremely grateful for her wisdom and time.”
The daylong virtual celebration was also filled with passionate and moving student presentations through spoken word, dance, slideshows and conversation. Topics included "Uncomfortable Conversations," "The Invisible Minority," "Unseen Violence,""Anti-Semitism" and "Environmental Displacement."
“I thought the day went really well online considering our circumstances. It still brought the same amount of education and support, and really made sure that unheard voices were spoken,” said Caleb Jakes ’22, Diversity Ambassador and co-President of ONYX.
Diversity Ambassador Annie Fabian ’22 shared Jakes’ enthusiasm. “There were some really powerful and informative presentations, as always, and I learned a lot! My favorite part was definitely Ms. Bennett's speech. She is so cool and was such a captivating speaker,” said Fabian.
Brown added that Bennett was the perfect addition to their MLK celebration.
“In ‘The Vanishing Half,’ Brit Bennett highlights through her characters’ identities, many unheard historically marginalized voices,” she said. “We couldn’t have had a more timely speech.”