Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Edward Park '23, News Editor

April 4, 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis sends shockwaves throughout the country. A man of firm resolve, King was known for spearheading the American Civil Rights Movement. His work revolved around organizing and leading non-violent protests which ultimately resulted in the passage of The Civil Rights Act in 1964, an act that outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, and religion in the U.S.
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, students at the Loomis Chaffee School celebrated the MLK federal holiday on Monday, January 17. This year, the theme of MLK Day was economic justice.
“My talks with students in schools and personal experiences portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. as a racial justice advocate, but he also was an advocate for economic justice too—and that’s not really talked about,” said Chief Diversity Office Ashley Augustin. “Therefore, I thought that it was important for our students to be aware of that as well.”
To start the day off, keynote speaker and professor at Harvard University Anthony Jack addressed the LC community on the topic of elite colleges and their failing to provide for disadvantaged students.
“We felt that Anthony Jack fit well into the theme because, one, our faculty all read his book over the summer and, two, his work talks about the experience of students in higher level education or even in schools like Loomis,” said Ms. Augustin, adding “how providing access doesn’t exactly provide inclusion for students who are financially strapped.”
Advisor meetings followed after the keynote speech, where students had the time to process what they had just heard in a small, comfortable setting. Moreover, the meetings served as opportunities for advisors to ask follow-up questions and guide student-based discussions.
While the last planned activity to cap off the day was student dance performances, they were postponed due to concerns over the potential spreading of COVID-19.
Following the MLK national holiday was MLK week on-campus, which extended the discussion on economic justice. On Thursday, January 20, PRISM, a student organization that embraces and promotes multiculturalism, hosted a conversation on the Reparations Bill in Evanston, IL. This policy was a recent initiative to make amends for the city’s long-standing history of redlining, in which residential segregation disproportionately exacerbated the economic disparities between America’s black and white citizens.
“We opened with a presentation, giving definitions and background information on the topic,” said PRISM co-president Rene Russell ’23. “Then, we led an open discussion about reparations in general while asking targeted discussion questions from time to time.”
Finally, to close out MLK week on Friday, PRISM held a Poetry Slam and Open Mic event, inviting local artists, Loomis alumni, and student poets to recite poetry and written works and highlight the black experience.
“The main purpose of the event was celebrating the black experience while bringing the community together,” said PRISM co-president Abdel Rickard ’22.
Playing a major role in the roaring success of MLK week, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) office looks to make another splash in the Loomis community—advocating for the rights of black Americans in February’s Black History Month.
“Yes, MLK week has passed but we are still pursuing that theme of economic justice to lead us into Black History Month,” said Ms. Augustin. “For the next four weeks, Loomis alumni will be zooming in to share their knowledge on financial literacy, with the first topic on budgeting.”