Browning boys of all ages commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with separate assemblies for each division, beginning with a Lower School assembly on January 15 and Middle and Upper School assemblies on January 16. In each case, the importance of human rights was emphasized. After all, noted Glenn Walker, faculty advisor to the Multicultural Club, “people” are at the core of this nation-wide observance.
Lower School boys heard from Upper School boys who are members of the Multicultural Club. They learned the importance of treating each other fairly and joined together to sing three African-American spirituals, accompanied by Lower School music teacher Lucy Warner. Ms. Warner noted, “Two very important ways in which African-American slaves were able to endure their suffering and to persevere were through musical expression (singing, playing instruments, emoting suffering and happiness through songs) and their belief in an afterlife in heaven with no more hardship nor pain.” She added that the audience responded enthusiastically to the boys’ rousing, spirited renditions of the following: “When the Saints Go Marching In” (Pre-Primary and Grade One), “Peace Like a River” (Grades Three and Four), and “Oh, Won’t You Sit Down!” (Grade Two).
Middle School boys also heard from members of the Multicultural Club who read and commented on the School’s Diversity Statement, spoke about Dr. King’s life and impact on the world, and reported on their experience at the People of Color Conference (PoCC)/Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) this past December (read related story).
The Upper School assembly was similar in content to the Middle School’s program immediately before it, with the Multicultural Club members playing a major role. Head of Upper School Jim Reynolds reports: “The Upper School assembly involved the melding of issues of American civil rights within the context of human rights. After a moment of silence for “all who have died violently,” presenters from the Multicultural Club spoke of the work of Cesar Chavez, the immigrant and migrant worker activist who modeled his pursuit of unionization of migrant workers within the United Farm Workers Union on the non-violent, boycott-driven approach of Dr. King. That presentation was followed by an assembly-wide discussion of current issues such as the efficacy of stop-and-frisk policies, the persistence of racism as a fact of cultural life, and the pervasive use of racist language in contemporary youth culture. This conversation extended one that began during the December Community Day (read related story) discussions, and, as Mr. Walker noted, it is one that will continue at another assembly in the second semester.”
Headmaster Clement also took this time to speak to the Middle and Upper School boys about his retirement at the end of the 2015-16 school year, his 28th year at Browning, as announced earlier this week.