Ahead of Monday's holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., students across all three divisions learned about the peaceful yet powerful efforts that he led to promote equality and justice during his life.
Students were also called on to consider what they will do to make Dr. King's vision part of their own lives.
Dr. King was born January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He became a minister and civil rights leader, using nonviolence to achieve his goals. Among his numerous efforts and achievements, he was a spokesman for the mid-1950s Montgomery Bus Boycott, a successful campaign to force integration of the city’s bus lines; in 1963, he led a nonviolent campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, aiming to desegregate that city; that same year he led the March on Washington, which drew more than 250,000 people to the national mall; in 1964, at 35 years old, he became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Tragically, Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.
The UNITiD Club led Upper School Chapel on Friday, January 14, inviting guest speaker Brian Warren, a psychology professor at Norfolk State University and co-founder of the Hope U Foundation, which empowers young people in foster care by preparing them for the next stages of their lives.
Mr. Warren attended Dr. King's alma mater, Morehouse College in Atlanta, in the 1980s, and has known family members of Dr. King. Among his highlights, he sang at Dr. King's home church in Atlanta.
After teaching the students about Morehouse's illustrious history - in addition to Dr. King, past attendees include former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, civil rights leader Julian Bond, and film director Spike Lee - Mr. Warren spoke about lessons he has learned that can spread Dr. King's message.
“Never stop pushing."
“Always be consistent."
“Look for a way to make a change."
Mr. Warren noted that Dr. King was only 39 years old when he was killed. King started his activism at a young age, demonstrating that young people can make a positive difference in the world. “It's time for you to start the process and become the leaders that will move this country forward," he said.
Middle School Director Jeff Boyd opened that division's chapel on Friday with a prayer from Dr. King and this message: “As a nation and a society we have a responsibility to carry his legacy forward."
The CARE Club then taught students about Dr. King's life, as well as other leaders, like the 14th Dalai Lama, who adopted his messages. Club members also offered a number of ways to reflect on Dr. King's legacy and carry it forward. Among them, donate to projects that support civil rights, and don't be afraid to speak out about wrongdoings.
All six Lower School grades have been studying Dr. King. As an example, first graders, Norfolk Academy's youngest students, took time each day in the week leading up to his birthday to read about him and his achievements. On Friday, the students designed their own posters that had peace signs on one side and a quote from Dr. King on the other side: “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Hate cannot drive out hate; only LOVE can do that." As they worked, they listened to music and videos that further taught about Dr. King.
Fourth graders read the book Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Caldecott award winner Doreen Rappaport; wrote poems and designed art inspired by Dr. King's words; and watched a video of Dr. King's 1963 “I Have a Dream" speech. Inspired by Dr. King's calls for a peaceful push toward equality for all, the students also placed their thumbprints on this “peace dove," which shows how, even though each and every one of them has individual prints, they can all come together to promote good.
Some of these projects will hang on the Lower School walls, so the learning about Dr. King certainly does not end with the holiday that honors him.