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MLK week celebrates Black excellence

How students and staff teach peers the legacy of MLK
Dylan Jackson
Coach Malik Prince speaks to the crowd at the MLK assembly

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most influential people in history. Many know him from his infamous “I Have a Dream Speech”, letters from a Birmingham jail and his leadership in the Montgomery bus boycott. However, this week the Black Student Union’s (BSU) involvement within the planning of a  school-wide powerpoint presentation and assembly has provided a deeper dive into things people may not know about MLK. 

Monday, January 8 featured a PowerPoint presentation on MLK’s background and included the surprising fun fact that he attended college at 15 years old. His speech “The Power of Love” was then played in each class. 

BSU President Semai Hagos felt this speech would be a strong way to begin the week. 

“I chose this speech because it’s a speech not many people know, I thought it really showed his character and how he led with compassion,” Hagos said. 

The theme of leading with compassion carried on throughout the week. On Tuesday, January 9, PowerPoint slides were presented which discussed landmark Supreme Court cases and the impacts of the civil rights movement. 

“We wanted to show the big events during the Civil Rights movement that drove MLK to want a change for not only African Americans but all minority groups,” Hagos said. 

To break up the week, Wednesday, January 10, students got the time to write down and reflect on what they had been learning. 

“This time allowed for students to connect MLK’s message to their lives and reflect on how his achievements impact our school and community on a daily basis,” Hagos said. 

The day before the assembly, Thursday January 11, BSU wanted to prepare students for the assembly by playing “Life’s Blueprint,” a speech in which MLK addressed high schoolers. 

“This speech is relevant and engaging for students, allowing them to connect MLK’s aspiration to our school and community,” Hagos said. “He motivates us to dream big and to strive to be the best in whatever it is we become in life.” 

To wrap up the whole week, BSU hosted the MLK assembly where they arranged for the choir and orchestra to sing “Lift every voice and sing” and continued to incorporate the arts by having the Washington Diamonds Drill team perform.

“We spoke with the drill team on how funk styles such as this one originated from West African tribal dances, which made its way to America,” Hagos said. “During the Civil Rights Movement, hymns and dances became a way for slaves to comfort each other and as a form of protest.” 

The drill team’s captivating performance is one that BSU Advisor Coach Malik Prince grew up with. 

“At my old highschool we used to have drill teams come to school at least twice a year. Performances like these are much more frequent and brought the school together,” Prince said.

After the drill team’s performance, junior Shya Knox performed a self-written rap relating to MLK and his vision. 

Prince gave insight into how this rap was a way to communicate MLK’s message. 

“Personally for myself I feel like I connect more with things when they are communicated on a level that is artistic. I think students feel that way as well, that’s why using hip hop and rap was really important for the assembly,” Prince said.

Hagos hopes that performances like these in assemblies will help to bring the school and community together. 

“I think we bond better over fun and interactive events such as dancing, rather than just reading PowerPoint slides,” Hagos said. “The different performances seemed to have been engaging to the students.”

Throughout the week students were educated in an interactive way to help teach MLK’s main message: to bring people together and lead with love, always.

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