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Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action

During the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, from February 1-5, MCS hosted a wide array of activities, including Upper School Assemblies, book shares, and art projects for our students. 

The Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action began in Seattle in 2016. The following year it became a national movement. MCS began participating in the Week of Action that first year in 2017-2018, with several MCS teachers serving on the steering committee. This year, the national movement has expanded to a Year of Purpose, inviting educators to focus on one of the guiding principles each month and participate in various days of action throughout the year.

From February 1-5, MCS students worked on a number of age-appropriate projects to learn about the Black Lives Matter demands and guiding principles. In the Lower School, 4-5s Este students worked with 7th and 8th grade students on a project about the book, I Am Every Good Thing, by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James. Seventh and 8th grade students joined the 4-5s for a Zoom meeting to read the award-winning book together. Following the reading, the 4-5s Este students made drawings with oil pastels inspired by the artwork in the story. You can see their artwork here. 

Laleña, 5-6s Mar teacher and author of What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book, visited the 8-9s classes for an author share. The  book breaks down each of the principles and focuses on how grown ups can talk to kids about big ideas and provides spaces for kids to think, draw and write. Students asked questions to help better understand the principles and asked Laleña to share more about her work with Black Lives Matter. Laleña has been a member of the Black Lives Matter at School Steering Committee and was featured in Gothamist and in this radio spot featured on NPR and WNYC.  
 
In the Upper School, the 7th and 8th graders have chosen Black Lives Matter for their annual activism project. It is the first time ever that students made a unanimous decision about the focus of their work for the year. They developed workshops to teach younger students about the movement and the Black Lives Matter at School demands and visited classes throughout the week. 

Mahogany L. Browne joined Upper School students and read from her book, “Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice.” She read several passages focusing on what it means to be a global citizen, allyship, body positivity, empathy, equality, forgiveness, gender, freedom fighters, immigration, joy, justice, prejudice, and what it means to be “woke.” A student asked a question that many would love an answer to: how we can channel our anger and disappointment in what's happening in the world and turn it into strength? “We must stay alert. We must ask hard questions,” Browne said. “Anger turns into passion for justice, justice is love and love is for everybody. Don't hold it inside. Write about it, dance about it, sing about it, be in conversations about it. Don't normalize it.”

MCS invited several other speakers, noted below, to share their work with students during the week, including several MCS alumni. You can watch the alumni recordings here
  • MCS alumni Malia Sardinha '17, Cal Gelernt '16, and Maya Barbosa '15 participated in a "Anti-Racist Student Activism" panel discussion.  They spoke about their first-hand participation in anti-racist movements at their high schools and colleges, including Little Red Elisabeth Irwin School, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Beacon High School and Syracuse University. 
  • Deirdre Hollman, MCS alumni parent and Founder and Creative Director of The Black Comics Collective, spoke about creating a forum that “celebrates cultural diversity in comics and amplifies the awareness of black comic creators to the communities that crave them.”


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