The Annual MLK March - Uplifting Youth Voices

“We turn on the news every day and we see hate crime after hate crime, murder after murder, innocent lives after innocent lives lost. There has to be a light at the end of this very dark tunnel, but there can’t be unless we do something. Keep fighting. Keep advocating. Don’t ever stop.” 
- Zayneb S.'21

Covid-19 has changed so much about how we interact, socialize, learn, and gather. MCS families, faculty, and staff have worked together to find creative ways to keep MCS traditions alive. One such tradition is the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March. 

MCS eighth graders gathered with their families and classmates on Wednesday, May 19, for a scaled down version of the traditional MLK Commemorative March. Since we could not gather as a community, we shared the event via Facebook livestream. Speeches from each stop can be viewed here. The annual event, now in its 33rd 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.​

Watch the speeches and see photos from the march here. 

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. in addition to the annual family-only assemblies which have been an internal MCS tradition since 1966. This year, since we were not able to gather on Dr. King's birthday in January, as is tradition the students chose May 19. Notably, May 19 is a significant date in today's struggle against Anti-Asian violence as it is the official launch of the "May 19th Black, Brown & Asian Solidarity Project." It is also the shared birthday of Malcolm X, Ho Chi Minh, Lorraine Hansberry and Yuri Kochiyama who all lived in Harlem and worked tirelessly against racially motivated violence and for human rights. 

"Uplift Youth Voices,” the theme of this year's march, touched on pressing civil rights issues including: mental health, prison reform, climate change, Black lives matter, and gender bias. 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 spent 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 affect change. Thank you for marching with us!​
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