BSD Schools Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
In 1983, legislation making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a federal holiday was passed and signed into law. The first nationwide observance took place in 1986, and since that time, each community marks the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in unique and meaningful ways. BSD students have used this day to reflect on how Dr. King’s vision continues to reverberate for them.
On the south end of the district, members of the Newport High School Black Student Union put together a moving tribute and reflection of Dr. King’s life and legacy. They shared their tribute and asked fellow students to reflect on the impact of Dr. King’s work as a part of their MLK Day virtual assembly.
Throughout the district, schools have gathered together for similar virtual recognitions and will continue to host assemblies and moments of reflection in weeks to come. Each in their own way have found opportunities to engage with and celebrate Dr. King’s lasting legacy.
Panelists at Interlake HS Call for Greater Understanding
At Interlake High School, a virtual assembly was held on Friday, January 14. Members of the choir opened the assembly, which featured staff and community panelists answering student questions. Panelists were asked to share what they felt was the most important part of Dr. King’s legacy. Bruce Jackson, special education teacher from Seattle Public Schools, identified the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963. Historians have recognized this as a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. The courageous activism of young people, students in middle and high school, exhibited to the nation the depth of injustice they endured. Mr. Jackson identified this moment as a movement toward inter-generational activism.
Panelist Donte Felder, award-winning teacher from Seattle Public Schools and founder of South End Stories, noted that Dr. King’s lasting legacy was his call for non-violent protest. Sherman Hutcherson who teaches Race in the US at Interlake High School identified Dr. King’s enduring perseverance to create change, while BSD Director of Equity, Shomari Jones, noted Dr. King’s willingness to take action for a cause as a powerful example that everyone can follow.
Each educator called for students to continue to live out Dr. King’s dream by listening to one another, gaining multiple perspectives, and finding pathways to greater understanding.
Interlake Senior Uses Her Voice in the Legacy of Dr. King
One student who is working toward that vision is Interlake senior, Megan Sun. Megan is a student in Mr. Hutcherson’s Race in the US class and finds that her advocacy work outside the classroom gives her insight and perspective to enrich her learning inside the classroom.
During her elementary and middle school years in BSD, Megan attended annual MLK assemblies and learned about the life and work of Dr. King. However, she always wondered if there was a way to delve more deeply into the legendary Civil Rights leader’s work. One day, her Interlake counselor emailed out an internship opportunity with the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition. As a youth intern for the Coalition, Megan began to peel back the dominant culture narrative and delve more deeply into the story of Dr. King’s work. This very idea shaped the theme of the 2022 Youth Leader’s event, “Reclaiming the Narrative.”
Megan’s work with the Coalition has allowed her to connect with like-minded youth activists, and to gain from the wisdom of community elders and local organizations who have championed the work of social justice for over 50 years. The convening of many generations and many perspectives is what drew Megan to continue this work and bring her insight in support of change within our BSD community.
Megan has been a youth voice on the BSD Superintendent Community Advisory Council for the past two years. Her experience working with the Coalition has allowed her to feel empowered to be a representative of her peers. Although Megan is grateful for many of her BSD experiences, she believes there are areas where the district can make improvements. The first change she would like to see is for the district to hire staff who are more reflective of the student body. The second change is to more intentionally center student voice.
“Remember that students are always at the center. Don’t lose sight of us.” – Megan Sun
On Sunday, January 16, Megan will share her reflections on a panel with fellow Coalition interns and discuss how her generation experiences the education system and how that aligns with Dr. King’s vision.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
She will also participate on MLK Day, Monday, January 17, in the organization’s march and rally starting at Garfield HS in Seattle, and close out a day of commemoration with a community lunch. Those interested can learn more about this outdoor, masked and socially-distanced event on the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition website and by searching #mlkseattle on social media.