by Hailey Waller

Students generated an atmosphere of pure gratitude for Martin Luther King Jr. when they gathered in Laverty Auditiorium to honor him on Wednesday, Jan. 12.
Director of Multiculturalism Jasmine Love began the assembly by reminding students of the time not too many decades ago when her great-grandparents, along with many other African Americans, were slaves.
“My mother knew King Jr. personally. He was very shy and didn’t even have enough confidence to speak in front of his classmates at Boston University,” said Love.
Furthermore, the assembly sought to impress upon all students the importance of MLK’s struggle against oppression.
“King Jr. had to work to become the great leader and speaker that he was. Thanks to King Jr.’s newfound confidence and persistence, Chadwick students are ‘living the dream’ today,” said Love.
Besides the initial address by Love, students ran the majority of the conference. This represented a departure from previous years, when guest speakers came.
“I have always thought of Martin Luther King assemblies as full community moments, and I think they should be student-driven and involve all three divisions,” said Love. “This year, we attempted to involve the sixth graders and had two assemblies.”
Senior Ally Van Deuren led students in the song “We Shall Overcome,” a protest song that became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. Sophomores Imani Ingram and Chike Ochoifeoma performed a short piece symbolizing King’s dream for the many different types of people in the world to get along with each other. Then eighth grader Chelsea Childress, sixth grader Elijah DeVaughn and Jordyn Rand graced their schoolmates with speeches about what King Jr. would want today.
“Hearing Ally sing ‘We Shall Overcome’ moved me to tears,” said Love. “Furthermore, all the student speakers did a great job, and I commend them for their courage. I hope in the future, we can hear more from the students on this day.”
Students also responded positively to this change in the celebration of MLK Day.
“I really liked the assembly,” said Childress. “I’m so happy that it was student- driven. Everyone gets tired of hearing guest speakers. It was a nice change, and I think it would be great to have it this way again next year.”
These speeches and presentations were followed by the sixth grade choir, who performed “We Shall Not Be Moved,” as well as the high school dance company, performing an artistic interpretation of King’s life.
“About the dance—I personally asked the dance company to use that dance because I thought it represented community, love and a universal representation of Martin Luther King’s dream,” said Love. “I think dance has a way of presenting a theme and going straight to the heart, and that dance did that for me.”
Overall, Love hopes that the new focus of MLK assemblies influences students’ everyday lives.
“I believe MLK Assemblies should involve ALL students and ALL faculty and staff because Dr. King was about ALL people getting along and non-violent action. It would be great to focus on how closely his ideals matched Chadwick’s Core Values,” Love said.