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In Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The entire school community enjoyed a day practicing critical thinking skills, communication, and collaboration outside of classes and in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy.  The day was designed to reflect on the history, present, and future of civil rights in this nation through the lens of our nation’s history of slavery.

The school attended a screening of the film Harriet which detailed a story about a woman who served and shaped her world helping to free slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Students and faculty also met in small groups to have guided discussions around articles from the New York Times' 1619 Project. The event organizers recognized that the 1619 Project has received some criticism and determined that such concerns about historical accuracy augmented discussion opportunities about the project and its intent. Students were encouraged to apply critical thinking in consideration and discussion of the various narratives presented in the articles and the film. Students were asked to consider what they observed and to share their thinking, their questions, and what enticed their curiosity. The day concluded with a community-wide reflection and discussion facilitated by Academic Dean Meredith Legg, PhD and Coordinator for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Erica Tryon. 

While special programming did exist for MLK Day, students, faculty, and staff will continue to discuss and consider ideas around race and equity and practice civic discourse. Read some of the student quotes heard during the community-wide reflection:

  • “I’m glad we are talking about racism and recognizing how it makes us uncomfortable.”
  • “We need to talk about the hard things -- the things that have left a stain on us.”
  • “As the saying goes, history is written by the victors. We need to learn about the things we need to change versus what we’ve already changed.”
  • “Learning and history are very subjective.”
  • “It is important to get as many perspectives as possible and to understand who made the movie, who wrote the article.”
  • “The world isn’t perfect but we can have hope if we keep striving to get better.”

    • A group discusses the movie Harriet and one of the articles from the 1619 project.

    • The Emma Willard School community heads to a screening of Harriet.

    • Students listen and clap for their peers during the community reflection.

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