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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
by Dr. Cat Zusky, Upper School Director of Student Life

On Tuesday, January 11, to celebrate and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Middle School and Upper School gathered together virtually to hear from community members about their engagement with issues of social justice. Student and faculty participants were asked to consider the following prompt: What social justice issue/cause inspires you and why? What do you want/need our community to know about it to become inspired alongside you? Two Middle School students, five Upper School students, and one faculty member took the opportunity to share their inspirations, knowledge, and experiences. 

The program began with an introduction by Caitlin B. ’26, who opened the assembly with a warm welcome in addition to a personal story about initially struggling with and eventually learning to embrace her identity as a biracial person. Jacqueline C. ’26 contributed with a story of her identity development as a feminist; she presented gender equity and inclusion as a key issue of our time.

Four Upper School students from Hasani Sinclair’s Semester 1 Social Justice course presented material related to and inspired by the class. Meghan D. ’24 spoke about injustices in the criminal justice system, using fines and arrests for jaywalking as a clear example of inequitable application of a law. Jordan L. ’26 shared research about inequities in educational opportunities as evidenced by data from three different neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Esme H. ’26 presented a compelling argument for the pursuit of social justice through arts education by teaching the origins of dance as rooted in African American history. Allie R. '24 shared her research on missing and murdered indigenous women in the United States, as well as her ideas for possible solutions to these underreported cases. All four students presented research about their topic as well as actionable solutions to improve and promote justice. 

Our final student speaker, Sam S. ’22, spoke of her ongoing personal journey to identify and acknowledge her privilege, and she shared strategies for activating as an ally, from attending a social justice youth conference sponsored by the ACLU to fine tuning her listening skills on a daily basis. Finally, Director of Service Learning Jhamasa Lewis-Adams completed the event with a deeply personal and creative presentation of her art therapy work to promote justice for Black women, as well as awareness about the challenges facing youth transitioning out of foster care. Ms. Lewis-Adams shared spoken word and song, images of her fashion line, and a recording of an original poem, all to bring life to the ways in which social justice intersects with artistic expression and creation. 

While opportunities to connect with community partners have been impacted by the pandemic, members of our community have sustained the legacy of MLK by researching, promoting, and inspiring others about the contemporary social justice issues that matter most to them. 

[Photo courtesy of:]

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