Country School Honors Martin Luther King, Jr. Memory
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, New Canaan Country School welcomed guest speaker, Omékongo Dibinga, author, youth motivational speaker, trilingual poet, CNN contributor, TV talk show host, professor at the American University and rapper. Dr. Dibinga joined the school’s faculty and staff for their second annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day breakfast and then spoke with Middle and Upper School students at an assembly. The Lower School (Grades 1-4) also celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with an assembly including a group recitation of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as other student presentations. View a photo slideshow.
In his remarks to both faculty and Middle and Upper School students (Grades 5 – 9), Dr. Dibinga acknowledged that we continue to live in dangerous times and that the work of our forefathers, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. is needed as much today as ever. “It seems as though every time we turn on the television, there is another story on some hot button issue… it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges we face today.”
“I encounter leaders like you every single day who may not be sure on how to respond to these challenges from a leadership perspective” he continued. His advice was to “educate yourself on the issue, survey your community to find out how everyone is feeling. Just because no one is speaking up doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, and finally, actively reach out to the affected. Your entire community needs to see that you are making efforts to be an inclusive community.”
When asked by a student how one person should go about changing an entire community, Dr. Dibinga reminded the sixth grader that a community could be as small as a circle of five friends. “Start where you can,” he advised. “If your friends are saying something you don’t like, maybe it’s about another person, maybe they are bullying someone, tell them that that is not okay with you.” He added, “Be an upstander, not a bystander. Stand up against injustice, don’t just stand by. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Let’s start right here. Look around you, be mindful of what you see. Get to know people. Ask questions.”
Director of Community Development Lynn Sullivan encouraged students to reflect upon these themes. “A commitment to inclusion is absolutely essential in all great schools and communities. I hope that all of us will take the time over the weekend to think about how we can strive together to strengthen our wonderful Country School community.”