Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Feature Workshops and Off-Campus Speakers

Phillips Academy will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 17 for the 21st time at Phillips Academy with programs featuring civil rights activists and Phillips Academy students. Lani Guinier, the keynote speaker of MLK Day, will kick off the day with an extended, 90-minute All-School Meeting. A civil rights activist and author, Guinier was the first African-American to receive tenure at Harvard Law School and will speak to students about race and class. Linda Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development, said that Andover has been looking for a way to address the topic of class in a school-wide setting for the past year. Griffith said Guinier would lend an exciting, new perspective to the school’s discussion of race and class. This year’s program will feature several off-campus guests who will share their perspectives in class-wide meetings or small workshops. Some of the off-campus guests include filmmaker Byron Hurt, David Canton, Associate Professor of History at Connecticut College, and Andrea Hong. Griffith said, “[the off-campus guests] will allow us to look beyond ourselves. That’s what this year is about.” In addition to the mandatory ASM, students will attend a workshop. Juniors and Lowers will attend a predetermined set of events. Uppers and Seniors had the opportunity to choose from workshops that ranged from small discussions to presentations featuring off-campus speakers. Juniors will watch “Mr. Glass,” a one-man theatrical show performed by Jonathan Dent ’05 that explores conflicts of race and identity. Dent plans to explain how encounters with these issues from his time as an Andover student affected his life. Lowers will watch the Academy Award-winning movie “Crash” and discuss the movie with Personal and Community Education (PACE) teachers. The movie follows several interweaving storylines that are all related to the issues of racial and social tensions. Griffith said that class-wide programs would facilitate common, inclusive conversations after the events were over. She said increased communication was an important element of MLK Day, beyond raising awareness of social and racial issues. While Juniors and Lowers will attend sessions that resemble classes, Uppers and Seniors had the opportunity to pick their workshops beforehand. Workshops of varying length are scheduled at various times throughout the day. Some workshops include Interracial Dating, Immigration and Law, Soul Food Junkies and Atheism, Religion and Spirituality in the Modern World. Hunt, a filmmaker, will use his documentaries to teach the workshops Manhood in America and Soul Food Junkies. In Manhood in America, students will view Hunt’s documentary and then discuss the issues presents with him. Hunt will focus on the meaning of manhood in America and influences on its identity and creation from TV and the media. In Soul Food Junkies, students will view clips from a documentary and discussing their perspectives on food. Inspired by a CAMD Scholar Presentation from Lloyd-Thomas, a religion-focused workshop will explore spirituality and beliefs through discussion. Griffith said that Interracial Dating, a workshop taught by Tasha Hawthorne, Instructor in English, is “always popular” since dating is often on the minds of many teens. As activism has become an increasingly important topic on campus, Griffith and the MLK Planning Committee included in two scheduled workshops titled, “Activism—What’s going on in the world and what are you gonna do about it?” and “Human Rights and Us: Genocide and Student Activism.” Some students felt MLK Day will allow Andover students to reflect on the complex realities of the world. Carpenter said, “Andover is in a bubble. Sometimes you forget how disrespectful the rest of the world is. This days reminds us of the terrible things that go on [outside the bubble].” Griffith said she felt MLK Day would help, “prepare [the students] for an increasingly global world…My goal is, at the end of the day, to have people thinking differently or thinking of something they would not have thought of before.” A student MLK Day Planning Committee, led by Griffith, coordinated and created workshops for the day’s events. This year, the committee consisted of Brandon Wong ’12, Denzil Bernard ’11, Elizabeth Kelly ’11, Julianna Aucoin ’12, Jessica Holley ’11, Kerry Lanzo ’11, Nicole Villar ’11, Shelby Carpenter ’12 and Seyoung Lee ’12. The nine students who formed the committee will also either run or co-host the program they helped create. “This program was created based on what the community has wanted…based on student input,” said Griffith.