Lending Their Voices To Honor Martin Luther King Jr.
On the morning of Tuesday, January 19, the Masters middle school community came together to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. around the theme of amplifying “Unheard Voices.”
Highlighting Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and other important milestones, Saliyaah Diouf ’28 began the virtual assembly with a slideshow about the slain civil rights leader’s life. “I learned some new things from the fun facts and I enjoyed presenting,” she said.
Ellie Firsenbaum ’28 followed with a lesson about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rosa Parks. Head of Middle School Tasha Elsbach focused on Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence and civil disobedience. “Citizens had the right to stand up and resist laws that weren’t moral. To be effective in that resistance and to attempt to break this 350-year-old system of racism and segregation, coalition building was essential,” Elsbach explained. “And King did this very effectively.”
“I loved when Ms. Elsbach spoke about the bravery of Black students during the Birmingham campaign. It really seemed to resonate with our students today, who saw that most of the actions involved in nonviolent protest are things they and their peers can do now,” said Brittany Farrar, middle school diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) curriculum coordinator and middle school languages teacher, who organized the day’s events.
The rest of the assembly was devoted to breakout sessions where students presented on contemporary issues related to social justice. The groups covered timely topics: Access to Education, Breonna Taylor, Racial Justice, Unheard Voices in the Music Industry, Bail Bonds, Minority Environmentalists, and the LGBTQ+ Community and Identity.
In their session, Loewy Nalle ’27 and Valentina Valdivia ’27 spoke about the federal death penalty and Brandon Bernard, who was executed last month in Indiana. “I learned that teaching others can be helpful and now I know that the simplest thing you can do is to sign a petition,” said Nalle.
“Empowering and trusting our students to run their own workshops is a big leap forward in the Middle School’s quest to empower student voices and foster leadership. Students were the teachers,” said Elsbach.
Azzan Thomas ’25 presented as part of the DEI Club and seemed to enjoy the whole process. “What I learned from that day was how to share a presentation with my friends. I also learned about so many different ideas from the other presentations,” he said.
“It is so inspiring to work with Masters students, who want to be powers for good and practice making compelling arguments for social change through information and calls to action,” added Farrar.