Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Holderness started with Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., the founder and director of the White Privilege Conference (WPC), a leading social justice conference. Dr. Moore with a PhD in Educational Leadership provides workshops in leadership, diversity, and privilege. He is also the founder of the Privilege Institute, a non-profit which seeks to engage people through relationships and learning. The Institute offers research, education, and other resources including a peer reviewed journal, “Understanding and Dismantling Privilege.” Dr. Moore spent the day visiting classes and engaging with students culminating in a presentation that is detailed in this post and that allowed students to follow-up with questions about affirmative action, what their roles as young people looks like in action, language in rap music, and what to do when they hear people say racist things.
“What’s Up Bulls?!” shouted Dr. Moore. “I appreciate being here! I want to get you thinkin’ and to keep you thinkin’!” And so began an hour-long exchange with Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. He shared a bit about himself and then said he was going to play just a short clip of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, “I Have a Dream.”
“Did you know that MLK gave 450 speeches/year but all we know about is the “Dream” speech?” Dr. Moore went on to say that the speech is 16 minutes and 42 seconds and it is not a lot to ask of himself (or others) to listen to the entire speech at least once a year. Afterall, considering the impact of the speech on many of our lives, including Dr. Moore’s, listening to it once a year is a small action.
Dr. Moore admitted that he is confused by our times. He asked if people knew what happened to the high school wrestler recently who was forced to have his dreadlocks cut in order to compete in a wrestling match. He shared a few other recent examples and wondered about these events happening right before our eyes today -- not in Dr. King’s time.
Dr. Moore said two years after the “Dream” speech, Dr. King referred to the dream as a nightmare. When white supremacy groups are feeling inspired by recent events, Dr. Moore asked, “Why keep dreamin’?!”
Honoring Dr. King gives us a time to pause and reflect and see how we are doing. In our post-racial, post-Obama, post civil rights movement, have we made progress? Have we improved?
“Why keep dreamin?!”
Sensing the discomfort in the predominately white audience, Dr. Moore said he wasn’t trying to shame or blame anyone. He spoke again about himself and said for him to be up at the podium, people died for him to get there. He said that motivates him daily. He feels very blessed.
He stressed that our community is kind of a bubble-land where economic and social issues of white supremacy and racial disparities are beyond the wall of our “bubblicious” community. He asked what does the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer actually look like? He shared that disparities in education, employment, technology, and wealth are getting wider even today, in 2019!
“Why keep dreamin’?!”
Dr. Moore reminded us that Dr. King once said, “don’t sleep, take action!” And then Dr. Moore again asked if we are making progress in today’s world. “What do you think?! Do you give a <darn>?” Dr. Moore shared the story of 15 year-old Claudette Colvin who was the youngster before Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white woman. He then asked, “Would you die for justice?”
America is changing. “This room is not what America looks like.” We need to be better prepared for challenge and diversity.
“Why keep dreamin’?!”
Dr. Moore detailed three important considerations for the Holderness community to think about if they want MLK’s dream to become a reality:
The super-privileged have extra responsibility.
When you have a lot, you should do a lot.
Do the work.
Practice what will help you. Staying within the confines of Holderness may not be the practice necessary for getting closer to the dream.
Privilege matters. Power matters.
You have an opportunity to do bigger things because of your education.
The best friend that hate has is silence.
Use your voice. Stand up.
Banking and Action
Just like the Capital One commercials, what’s in your wallet? What are your actions that will help make a difference?
Thank you, Dr. Moore, for spending time with us and helping us know that getting to the dream takes all of us working and standing up. At the end of his presentation, Dr. Moore asked, “What are you going to do?” From the audience, Mr. Peck added, “For others?” And that is the question that we carried with us, a question that is part Dr. King, part Dr. Moore, and part Mr. Peck. What are you going to do for others?
I write this letter with a heavy heart and as a call to action. The senseless killing of George Floyd and the countless black men and women who have needlessly died before him continually expose the deep fractures of our society made manifest by racism and injustice. In our outrage and pain, the Holderness School community stands in solidarity with our students and alumni of color, the black community, and with the peaceful protestors across the country.
The works of art on the walls of this digital gallery were made by Holderness School students representing grades 9-12 in various photography and studio art classes throughout the 2019-2020 school year.
Some of the images are an observation and illustration of the incredible complexity and significance of the time we live in; some pieces are commentary about pollution and climate change while other pieces are simply beautiful and pleasing to view. They all have merit and purpose.
The artwork also illustrates the interests and concerns of young artists figuring out their role in the world. Their work is sincere and candid and shows the depth of talent in the visual arts here at Holderness School. These students are extremely creative, intelligent, mature, and most of all, capable of creating insightful artwork with substance and significance.