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Upper School Assembly on Voting Rights with Debo Adegbile '80

With the country's monumental presidential election approaching, voting has been a topic in many of the classed at Manhattan Country School this fall. In conjunction with what Upper School students are learning in the classroom, MCS Alum Debo Adegbile '80, an expert on voting rights, was a special guest at the first Upper School assembly of the year on October 29. Students asked thoughtful questions, wondering what they can do about voter suppression and how they can participate in this year's election even though they are not yet old enough to vote. It appears, according to Debo’s advice, that MCS students are already doing much of what they can to participate in our country's democratic process. 

At MCS, our youngest children learn about the importance of voting and the history of voting in the United States. Watch 4-5s sing the Voting Song here. In the Upper School, students are studying the election and its importance in real time. Seventh and 8th graders have been working on  Get Out the Vote projects where they were tasked with talking about an issue they care about, sharing what they believe from a personal perspective, and urging people to vote through videos, podcasts and posters. From songs and stories to self-directed projects that incorporate research, critical thinking, and written and verbal communication skills, MCS is successfully translating our important academic work to MCS En Casa's virtual classrooms.  

When asked how MCS shaped who he has become today, Debo responded, “MCS was a place where accepting people for who they are and understanding that everybody has a voice, and not just a voice but a duty to use it, not only in service of yourself and your dreams, but to have the courage and the conviction to stand up for others, that was something that was in the air and is in the air at Manhattan Country School. I remember that I first learned of Thurgood Marshall and his work at the Legal Defense Fund, where I would ultimately work, while at MCS and so in very foundational ways in terms of helping me decide who I was as a person, what mattered to me in life, how I wanted to spend my life, and also the things I wanted to study and pursue in education, so many of those things come back to my relationships, my classes, my peers and the families from MCS whom I learned from and still love. You will go to many schools, but not many schools will impact you in the way that the MCS experience does.”

Debo is just one example of how an MCS education, including the critical thinking, civic engagement and racial literacy skills that children begin to develop at an early age is impacting some of the most important issues and challenges facing the country today. 

Watch the assembly here. 

Debo is a partner at the WilmerHale law firm and serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. While working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he argued two significant civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court to protect core provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Debo is also featured in a New York Times video about voter suppression: Why Voting in This U.S. Election Will Not Be Equal
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