MLK Day Will Feature Dr. Benjamin Carson, Off-Campus Guests and Student Presentations

Dr. Benjamin Carson, once called “dummy” by his classmates, was the worst student in his third-grade class. Carson is now a world-famous pediatric neurosurgeon, and on Monday he will deliver the keynote speech for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Phillips Academy. Linda Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD), said, “People have mentioned to me that [Carson] is a truly inspirational speaker. He has an incredible life story that everyone, not just the students, can gain something from.” When Carson’s mother saw that both he and his older brother were failing school, she became determined to help them improve their grades, although she only had a third-grade education. After graduating high school with honors, Carson received a degree from Yale University in psychology and then attended the University of Michigan Medical School. Carson has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. CNN and Time magazine have also named Carson one of America’s 20 leading doctors. He is now the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. In addition to the keynote speaker, upperclassmen will attend workshops. Students were allowed to select their preferences from a long list of presentations, which include student research projects and off-campus guest speakers. Tori Wilmarth ’09 will present her CAMD scholar project entitled “White Privilege at Andover: A Different Lens on Race and Racial Challenges,” as an MLK Day workshop. Wilmarth became interested in the topic of white privilege after she attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, which exposed her to the issue of race relations. “I think that because white people are the majority, they feel that they don’t really have a place in discussing race relations,” said Wilmarth. “A white perspective can be valuable with diversity efforts.” She continued, “I feel that this topic is part of a larger social system and that it is present at Andover like many other places.” To research her project, Wilmarth interviewed Andover faculty members, explored literature and attended a sociology class at Northeastern University. “I hope that the students who attend my presentation will really just get a chance to think about race relations and our country’s social system. What people will get out of the presentation depends on what people are willing to put in it. I definitely want this to be an interactive workshop rather than a lecture,” said Wilmarth. Daniel Glassberg ’09, Head of STAND and representative of his club at the MLK Day Committee, organized for Sayon Soeun to speak at the workshop “Cambodian Genocide.” Soeun is a genocide survivor and served as a child soldier for six years. “It’ll be more of a personal lecture rather than a historical one because Soeun is sharing his personal experiences,” said Glassberg. He continued, “We had a workshop on genocide last year, and I wanted to continue that. I knew I wanted to bring a speaker, and luckily it worked out.” Glassberg will co-lead another workshop, “Religion and Politics and the Public Square,” a discussion about the role of religion in politics and society. Kathleen Dalton, Co-Director of the Brace Center for Gender Studies, approached Seniors Jennifer Morgan and Elizabeth Patino to co-lead a workshop based on the documentary “I Was a Teenage Feminist.” Morgan watched the film at Brace Center her Lower year, which inspired her to apply for a Brace Scholar presentation. “I Was a Teenage Feminist” is a film on the decline of feminism, as documented by a woman who was a feminist in the 1970s. “It’s an exploration of what happened to feminism since the 1970s, which was feminism in its heyday,” said Morgan. Participants of the workshop will view and then discuss the documentary. “We will probably be discussing whether or not we agree with the statements that are made in the documentary,” said Morgan. For other MLK Day activities, Juniors will attend Michael Fowlin’s one-man show “You Don’t Know Me.” Lowers will watch Spike Lee’s film “When The Levees Broke,” documenting the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Other possibilities for this year’s keynote speaker included Spike Lee, who was unavailable. Griffith said, “I am so excited for this year’s MLK day, especially with the inauguration of the first African-American president the next day. [Martin Luther King, Jr. is] probably rolling over in his grave.”