Crossroads’ Middle School paid homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a dynamic, interactive assembly on the great civil rights leader’s birthday, Jan. 15. Rotating though three modules by grade, students reflected on what the holiday means.
Long-time Crossroads trustees Nat Trives and Elaine Parker-Gills shared their personal experiences with the Civil Rights Movement, and touched on how King impacted their lives.
Nat, a former Santa Monica mayor and police officer, described how he fought for sanitation workers’ rights in 1968, just as King was doing the same in Tennessee when he was assassinated.
“It was at that time when things were really, really scary. If [you’ve] ever had a dog on a leash yapping at you and a fire hose knocking you down with its power, then you can appreciate where [you’ve] come from,” Nat said to the students.
Elaine, a professor, lecturer and consultant specializing in diversity and strategic change, was involved with college movements of the day and encouraged students to be mindful of what King did to make the world a better place.
“Even when Dr. King stood up and was trying to be fair, in April 1968, he was shot down,” she said. “There are parades and different activities, but sometimes we forget about that sacrifice.”
Students also discussed the power of music and liberation songs of the civil rights era. This portion of the assembly concluded with music teacher Jarod Sheahan teaching students the song “Glory,” from the 2014 film “Selma,” which centers on King’s life and legacy.
In the final installment, students saw how even technology can be used as a tool to honor King when Middle School STEAM Lab Coordinator Dori Friedman played a song she created on the music program Garage Band. The students then made their own MLK tribute songs, incorporating King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
“Music really connects people and shows signs of hope and respect, so I think this assembly is really cool,” said eighth-grader Isabella Koz.
Earlier that week, Upper School students read aloud their classmates’ real-life stories about encounters with discrimination, microaggressions and injustice during an MLK assembly. The event concluded with a sing-along of “We Shall Overcome.”