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Beloved Community Teach-In: To Honor and Live Out Martin Luther King, Jr's Legacy
Greg Kwasnik

To honor and live out Dr. King's legacy, the Holderness Community hosted their annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Teach-In, a two-day opportunity to further understand and explore the contributions of Black and African Americans and to consider the ways that we might live Dr. King's legacy in our own lives and in our contemporary society.


Classes on Monday and Tuesday explored topics ranging from the impact of Supreme Court cases to the role of big data in inequality to analyses of King’s own writings. Other classes studied the photography of the Civil Rights era, the poetry of Langston Hughes, and the importance of identity in Latin American music. 


The Teach-In ended with a chapel service, where Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion Jini Rae Sparkman challenged the school to advance Dr. King’s legacy, sharing, “ we honor him, name him hero, post those quotes or pictures, I want us to do so with a full realization of what he called us to do… I hope you leave and ask yourself what you can do to live in the legacy of a man who urged us to be creators of new ideas.” 


Music Director Dave Cosby also spoke during the chapel, reflecting on a visit to the former Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. King’s assassination and the current location of the National Civil Rights Museum.  In his remarks, Mr. Cosby shares that just moments before Dr. King was murdered, his last known request was to have the traditional gospel song “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” played at an upcoming rally. A hymn of hope and faith, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” was sung at Dr. King’s funeral and became the most-recorded gospel song ever.


The two-day Teach-In was a powerful way for Holderness students to learn about often-silenced and forgotten peoples and their histories, societal advancements, technological developments, and scientific achievements.


“Our power lies in our teaching,” said Ms. Sparkman. “Thus, we hosted the teach-in in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a form of nonviolent protest intent on the positive future change that begins with inclusion.”


This is not the first time that Holderness has hosted a Teach-In as part of its Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day remembrances.  Beginning in 2017, the Teach-In has become an annual learning opportunity to explore and engage with the often-dismissed achievements of people of color. This year, Holderness joins The King Center in this work as part of their “Beloved Community Teach-In.”


Some specific topics and lessons taught during the Teach-In include:


  • Loving vs. Virginia: The Supreme Court case that struck down state laws banning interracial marriage in the United States.
  • Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil
  • The importance of identity in Latin American music and discussion of the casta paintings of the 18th century (examples from Puerto Rico and Colombia)
  • African American Expressions of Resistance, Hope and the Search for Freedom and Equality through Music: From the Spirituals to Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.
  • The Baldwin vs. Buckley debate at Cambridge Union that considered the question: “Has the American Dream been achieved at the expense of the American Negro?”
  • A Black Knight in Lisbon: The Chafariz d'El-Rey (King's Fountain) Painting
  • Let There Be Light: The Church as Birthplace of Social Change
  • How much was American identity influenced by the Enlightenment ideas of freedom and equality in 1754-1775?
  • Global Policy solutions to alleviate Poverty: Comparting Authoritarian and Democratic Regimes
  • The Black Press Coverage of WWI
  • Food Deserts in the United States








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