MLK Day at Kent Prompts Student Reflection and Analysis


Richie Kendall, Campus Reporter

On Monday, January 20, Kent School came together to hold the 2nd annual celebration and programming in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. Dozens of students and faculty members planned the events for months. Ms. Devonna Hall, the school’s diversity and inclusion coordinator, organized many workshops relating to equality, inclusion, and multiculturalism.

Students were given the day off from classes to participate in the MLK day program. In the morning, each student had the opportunity to attend two different workshops of their choice. Student leaders and teachers presented an issue or topic that has been historically or is currently significant to civil rights and then prompted discussions among the students. The workshops ranged a wide variety of subjects including topics like “Redlining and the Wealth Gap” and “Cultural Appropriation in Fashion.” Students were challenged by the student and faculty leaders to critically think about the systemic and societal struggles many minority groups have and still face. Whether through creating collages or examining historical maps, students engaged with the material they studied.

James Hayakawa ‘21, a member of the diversity club on campus, led a group concerning the representation of Asians in Hollywood and entertainment as a whole. He said that “leading a group during the MLK day workshop was a pleasure because I didn’t only get to teach my peers, but I also learned a lot about the topic myself.” He went on to mention that the event was something he “definitely looked forward to participating in again next year.”

Following the morning workshops, students gathered in the chapel to hear a keynote speech from Kent graduate and current University of New Hampshire senior Nelson Thomas ‘16. Thomas’ words surrounded the importance of civic engagement and reflection. During his time at Kent, Thomas had been an outspoken activist, as he was one of the students who originally met with Father Schell to formulate a celebration for MLK Jr. Day. Mr. Stewart, Thomas’s advisor while at Kent remarked that “Nelson inspired students with his words on forging connections with peers as a means of reaching for success.”

Overall, this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. program was an outstanding success and Kent hopes to enjoy further celebrations like this for years to come.