Over the past week Berkeley Carroll celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., other civil rights activists, and changemakers in all three levels of the school. During a joint Middle School and Upper School assembly, Madison B. (’16), Michael M. (’21), Sophie W. (’16), Henry S. (’21), Devin H. (’16), Briana J. (’20), Tai D.-M. (’20), Garrett C. (’16), and Aaron G. (’16) all presented short biographies of activists from both the past and present. Keynote speaker and former Poet Laureate of Philadelphia Sonia Sanchez shared a collection of poems celebrating and remembering civil rights activists throughout history. The choir and dance team ended the assembly with a joint performance of the song “Glory,” written by John Legend for the movie Selma.
After the assembly, the Upper School split up into three workshops. Two of the workshops were poetry workshops led by by Sonia Sanchez and Mahogany Browne, a writer and activist. The two of them led their own small groups in discussions on race and gender using some of their poems as inspiration. Students engaged with each of the speakers, reacting to the ideas presented and bringing up new questions of their own to find a deeper understanding and connection with each of these topics.
Using the sonic and spiritual charge from Ms. Sanchez’s 20-minute poetry sermon, Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Green used art to help the students process their own identity through an art workshop. They chose several quotes about identity from Junot Diaz and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that provided a framework for focusing on the self-narratives people construct, which can strengthen their understanding of their identity. The art directive was designed to engage students with powerful memories- either immediate or more distant- that reflect this understanding, and by writing this memory on paper the student has a chance to engage with this experience as an object and not just a collection of ideas stuck inside the mind. Finally, by using colored tissue paper, cotton swabs, and q-tips, the student can alter the appearance of this narrative, thus enabling him or her to either subconsciously or consciously engage in the transformative nature of the creative process.
The Lower School honored Martin Luther King, Jr. and other changemakers with their Peace & Justice for All ceremony, and each grade contributed something to the assembly. Kindergarteners sang a song in English and Spanish and shared a video about changemaker Louis Braille. 1st Graders spoke about the impact Ruby Bridges had to the civil rights movement. 2nd Graders did interpretive dances to Langston Hughes poems. 3rd graders sang a song slaves sang on the Underground Railroad led by teacher Bill Bronson. 4th graders showed the similarities between civil rights struggles in the 1960s and today. Ms. Sloan also led the 3rd and 4th graders in singing two songs, one of which she wrote herself called “I Have A Dream,” which used lines from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech.
To see photos from the MS/US assembly and workshops, click here.
To see photos from the LS assembly, click here.