News From Masters

Students Celebrate Dr. King in Diverse Ways
Posted 01/19/2018 10:00AM

One student read a poem about discrimination against Muslims, while others delivered presentations about disenfranchised citizens in Latin America, Tibet and New York City. These were just a few of the compelling contributions to Masters’ celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“If You See Something, Say Something” was the theme of the Upper School’s celebration held during Morning Meeting at the Claudia Boettcher Theatre on January 11 and 12. The program included speeches, songs, poetry readings, dance performances and videos touching on a variety of topics.

Junior Abdoul Bah read two original poems, including “We the Believers.” The powerful piece included these lines:

It’s funny, cuz being Muslim in America means being equated to those who would kill me...

Stop telling us to go back to our countries

We live in the land of the free

But sometimes I feel anything but free...

Stop ripping my mom’s hijab off her head

Stop wishing we were dead.

Sophomore Lawrence Azzariti and other members of the Latinos Unidos club delivered an informative presentation entitled “Concencia y Representacion.” 

Referring to the current economic and political crisis in Venezuela, Lawrence noted that members of his family must wait in line for hours to get groceries, only to find few items to buy. Other club members decried the high female murder rate in Latin America and the practice of colorism – discrimination against people based on their skin tone. 

Upper School Spanish teacher Roberto Mercedes, the club’s advisor, talked about rent hikes that are forcing residents out of Latino neighborhoods in New York City. “I have a dream that gentrification and displacement will become a part of the past of Latino and black communities,” he said.

Other presentations included the GALS club’s original video about sexual harassment and the #MeToo Movement; the Gender and Sexuality Alliance club’s showing of “Walking While Trans,” a video about the transgender experience; dance pieces by Urban Connection, MUSE and the Masters Dance Company; and song performances by Positive Rhythm, 49 Clinton and individual students.

The seventh grade contributed to the Upper School’s program by singing “We Are the World” near the end of the event on January 12.

In closing remarks, English Department Chair Robert Cornigans said, “If you’re aware of an injustice being done, don’t talk about it – do something about it.” He also urged the Masters community to “truly embrace each other and truly celebrate our differences.”

Senior Phoenix Jackson, a member of the ONYX club, told the assembled students, “The action that you took today needs to be taken every day in this community.” 

During the Middle School’s program, sixth grader Viviana Simon read “Still I Rise,” a poem by Maya Angelou; and Middle School Music Coordinator Katie Meadow’s advisory group sang “We Shall Overcome.” Eighth grader Clyde Lederman read excerpts from the "How Long, Not Long" speech Dr. King gave at the conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. Two other eighth graders, Amechi Aduba and Jason Campbell, related four little-known facts about Dr. King.

Sixth grader Xavier Rolston also participated by reading his poem about Dr. King. Xavier’s piece includes the following lines: 

Bold as a fire,

Burning through the night.

They tried to keep him in the shadows

Dr. King would soon have the spotlight...

Taken too soon by his fellow man

For having a dream to give rights to us all,

No matter our race, ethnicities, woman or man.

As Doctor King once famously said,

We must “...make justice a reality for all...”

His inspiring words helped bring us together

And we must not let his dream stall

No matter someone’s race, gender or religion

let their true selves come through

If you show people genuine respect and compassion,

His legacy will remain with me and you

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