MLK, Jr. Day Assembly Welcomes Witness of the March on Washington

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MLK, Jr. Day Assembly Welcomes Witness of the March on Washington

Mr.  Emerson Moran addresses the students in Benjamin Hall.

Mr. Emerson Moran addresses the students in Benjamin Hall.

Mr. Crisafi

Mr. Emerson Moran addresses the students in Benjamin Hall.

Mr. Crisafi

Mr. Crisafi

Mr. Emerson Moran addresses the students in Benjamin Hall.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) had to stand up and preach peace to the American people to create equality for all races in the “Great American Melting Pot.” On Friday, January 15, as a precursor to MLK, Jr. Day, Benjamin middle schoolers had the opportunity to watch a memorial to King streamed live from Benjamin Hall at the Upper School.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 was a peaceful, inspiring protest of anti-segregation of different races. That day, Martin Luther King, Jr., a southern preacher and leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement, spoke the words of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to approximately 250,000 people on the Washington Mall. One of those people at the March on Washington was Mr. Emerson Moran, Benjamin’s featured speaker. A journalist, speech writer, and communications strategist for the top national public, private, and civic sector leaders, Mr. Moran shared the importance of the March on Washington and anti-segregation. He had the opportunity to hear the hymns sung and words spoken that day in the heart of Washington, D.C.

“I really thought the speaker, [Mr. Moran] was able to convey [Dr. King’s] message” stated seventh grader Briley Crisafi, “I think this is a big part of our history [too.]” At the feet of the Lincoln Memorial, MLK used very descriptive metaphors and even quoted the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address.

After Mr. Moran spoke, Breezy Leassear ’17, a Benjamin junior, powerfully reenacted King’s famous speech in Benjamin Hall that “made freedom ring” throughout the Hoffman Auditorium and the Benjamin middle school classrooms. “I loved the end of the [MLK] assembly when [King’s] speech was reenacted, it even gave me chills,” said middle school Spanish teacher Mr. Charles Maddox.

Several other students participated in the assembly, such as Myasja Wilson ’16, who introduced Mr. Moran, noting that he was a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news as well as a

Breezy Leasser '17 recites Martin Luther King's, Jr. "I Have a Dream" speech on the stage in THe Hoffman Family Auditorium.

Mr. Crisafi
Breezy Leasser ’17 recites Martin Luther King’s, Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech on the stage in THe Hoffman Family Auditorium.

recipient of the Associated Press Community Service Award. journalist, speech writer, and communications strategist for the top national public, private, and civic sector leaders. After Leassear’s reenactment, fellow junior Kaylan Arnold ’17 sang “You Raise Me Up” by Secret Garden with piano accompaniment by Andrew DeFerrari ’19.

The MLK day assembly was unique in that it was also a test of Benjamin Technology. It was the first assembly to stream live to the Lower/Middle School Campus. The middle school students were able to watch the assembly online from their comfort of their own advisory classrooms. “Using YouTube Live or Google Hangouts for assemblies is an excellent way to bridge the gap between our two campuses is great when we are unable to travel [to the Upper School],” said Educational Technology Chair Nicholas Crisafi.

As a result, the assembly was able to reach the middle school students and had a significant impact upon them, as well. “I think Benjamin’s diversity program follows Dr. King’s message and pursues it, [because this] means that his message is continuing even [today],” said eighth grader Nicholas Amato. The MLK assembly was a success as it employed new technologies to communicate the importance and relevance of an historical event.

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