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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marked with Discussion, Education, Service

Mercersburg Academy students, faculty, and staff joined together Monday, January 16, for a day of discussion, education, and service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. This holiday also marked the 28th anniversary of the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

View a collection of photos and videos from the day.

The keynote address was presented by Dr. Tony Keith, Founder and CEO of Ed Emcee, who specializes in spoken word poetrya performance of poetry. During his presentation, Keith recited poems in hip-hop fashion.

“Poetry chose me,” Keith said, referring to himself as a “superhero with a cape made of metaphors” who has been speaking in rhythmic patterns since third grade. 

He challenged students to develop a knowledge of themselves so they will remain awake during a revolution, acknowledging King’s reference to Rip Van Winkle in a 1965 speech delivered at Oberlin College.

The day began with an identity activity. Each student selected three aspects of their identity that they were most aware of at that moment. Identity aspects included age, gender, race, socioeconomic class, ability, etc. They were asked to find people who have common identifiers, discuss what they have in common, and report back to the group.

After the keynote address, students broke into groups to attend sessions designed and facilitated by faculty and staff. Facilitators were asked to consider an excerpt from the last book written by Dr. King, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?:

“We have inherited a large house, a great world house in which we have to live together—Black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu—a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”

Session topics varied from “Songs for a Cause,” during which students explored music advocating for peace or music calling for change, to “Gatekeeping the Outdoors” where students investigated how participating in outdoor activities has historically been viewed as appropriate for some and not for others. Students had the opportunity to choose from more than 25 possible topics.

Service activities included sessions focusing on food insecurity, racial reconciliation, and winter warmth.

Head of School Quentin McDowell P ’25 was the featured speaker during the closing ceremony. He challenged students to find ways to apply what they discovered about themselves and others throughout the day.

“For the planning of the day, we worked via committee,” says Renata Williams, Mercersburg’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Our intention is always to advance the work in our community and honor Dr. King’s legacy.”

For more about Mercersburg’s work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, visit our website. Learn more about Mercersburg’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Day in 2022.