This year’s Martin Luther King Day celebration took place on Tuesday, January 16 and featured Jeff Hobbs, the author of The Short and Tragic Life of Rob Peace, as the keynote speaker.
To comment, Director of Inclusion and Community Life Marjorie Young stated, “The themes in the book, which include race, class, education … and the duality and difficulty that may come from having a home life and school life that are extremely different, are ones with which we believe much of our Deerfield community can relate.”
Ms. Young also explained why Deerfield typically celebrates MLK Day on a Tuesday, stating, “Our decision was based on several factors, including the availability of more prominent speakers, the ability to accommodate the large number of admission candidates who visit on MLK Day, and the desire to ensure that the visitors can observe our school on a typical day.”
The Martin Luther King Day Planning Committee organizes the workshops and other accompanying events each year. Office of Inclusion research assistant Abby Lupi ’18 clarified, “The Planning Committee … shares ideas among … Deerfield faculty and students who submit workshop proposals based on a yearly theme. This year’s theme is ‘the beloved community.’ ”
Additionally, Ms. Young explained that the Planning Committee also worked with outside organizations this year, stating, “We were excited to welcome Michael Carter ’07 … who works for the non-profit Encampment for Citizenship, which conducts residential summer programs for ‘young people of widely diverse backgrounds and nations.’ He [facilitated] the Spoken Word Event on Monday and workshops on Tuesday.”
This year’s MLK Day celebration also incorporated several changes, most notably requiring a grade-wide service component to the ninth grade schedule. Ms. Young specified, “The ninth graders [went] off campus to … work in partnership with the CSGC to expose students to the pressing issue of food insecurity. In collaboration with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, our ninth grade students [had] the opportunity to learn directly from non-profit organizations in the local area.”
Barnes agreed, “I think that exposing the ninth graders to service and setting the tone for their Deerfield careers is so important before they go into tenth grade.”
Barnes urged students not to think of MLK Day as a “day of preaching” and also stated, “MLK Day is mainly about yourself and self-care. … Buying into Dr. King’s message is a daily action.”