MLK Jr. Day Commemoration

MLK Jr. Day Commemoration

On January 24, Cultural Diversity Director Liz Warren and members of Suffield’s Students of Color group shared testimonials, poems, and songs with the community to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The presentation began with a video of Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate and talented young woman who gave the inaugural poem at last year’s presidential inauguration, sharing her latest poem, “New Day’s Lyric.” Mrs. Warren then spoke about the reason for and importance of this week’s chapel, emphasizing, “Peaceful doesn't necessarily mean quiet.” 

Giselle Ciriaco ’22 began the student presentations, challenging her peers to think about unity and brokenness. She spoke about cheering for friends on the court, field, or stage only to turn around and sing along to songs using racial slurs, causing damage to those you care about. “Unity is key to human growth,” Giselle said. “Today can be the next step in achieving unity amongst us all.”

Chidinma Esielem ’23 spoke about the importance of love and being slow to hate. She quoted Dr. King’s recently found handwritten note to someone who inquired about what he believed was the meaning of love. Dr. King wrote, “Love is the greatest force in the universe. It is the heartbeat of the moral cosmos.” Chidinma stated, “We commend Martin Luther King Jr. for being the beginning of the dream. But King’s greatest accomplishment...was his ability to love despite the hatred that encumbered him in all aspects of life.”

Chastity Blair ’24 and Keyvanna Bennett ’24 shared an original poem about critical race theory written by Chastity that challenges the way history is taught. In part, they read the following: “Most don’t understand the Freedom Wave we’ve been Riding / Our diaspora yearning for acknowledgment / Yet them teaching our rights is a controversial academic movement.”

Noel Rivera ’24 spoke about this year’s school theme of hope, and how Dr. King’s aspirations of hope helped shape who is he and how he carries himself. He said, “As a student athlete, hope is what fuels me. MLK wanted people of color to feel that their dreams could turn into tangible goals. He wanted us to have the luxury of pursuing our deepest passions.”

Tyler Cooper ’22 talked about an exciting new journey he will soon embark upon—beginning the next chapter of his educational experience in college. He subtlely hinted at breaking stereotypes and the “norm” of what society thinks he ought to be or not be, saying, “When I get out there, I don’t want people to see me as the Black boy who can swim, or the Black boy who can act...I want them to see me as Tyler, the young adult that is coming into his own, the young adult who can spread MLK’s message.”

Suleni Sabio-Arzu Brown ’22 sang John Legend and Common’s powerful song “Glory.” The song talks about what their “one day…” will look like and what glory will be for them.

Noel Batista ’22 challenged us not to use the MLK holiday as simply a day off or to learn about his life only on the designated holiday, but to continuously learn about our history and the systems that have separated us for generations. He encourages, “Being a meaningful ally to any community means constantly critiquing your allyship... Notice where you can be doing more and do it. And always remember, your job is to support, not overtake.”