Honoring Dr. King in 2020: The 32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March

On the morning of Monday, January 20, a record number of students, parents, alumni and friends from the Manhattan Country School community gathered to begin the 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March, "Equity Now: Today's Youth Speak Out for Change." The annual event, now in its 32nd year, is organized by the eighth grade class and illustrates one of the many ways MCS celebrates the steadfast humanitarian work of the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.​

Dr. King’s ideals served as the founding inspiration for Manhattan Country School. The origin of the March grew out of the desire to honor Dr. King with the wider New York City community outside of the annual family-only civil rights assemblies which have been an internal MCS tradition since 1966. Joyfully bringing speeches, chants and songs of peaceful protest to the streets of New York, the eighth grade tradition of planning the March began in 1998 – spearheaded by former English teacher Carol O’Donnell.​

"Equity Now: Today's Youth Speak Out for Change" touched on key civil rights issues including: mental health, prison reform, climate change, education, gender bias and homelessness. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March illustrates how the school’s progressive curriculum and commitment to social justice helps each student’s voice develop into that of an articulate, compassionate activist.​

Under the guidance of English teacher Tom Grattan, the eighth graders spend several weeks planning the March including selecting the theme and route and writing their own speeches. Through this process, students learn to organize, collaborate, negotiate, advocate, conduct research and write persuasively.​

Each year the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March exemplifies the capacity of youth leadership to organize, advocate and affect change. Thank you for marching with us!​

The eighth graders’ speeches will be available in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. newsletter which will mail with The Courtyard this summer.
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