Rev. Paul Anthony Daniels II will open the day with a special Chapel service
Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t create the concept of Beloved Community — a place where diversity of perspectives is honored, affirmed, and included — but it was the central tenet of his work, and he is widely credited with popularizing the idea in both words and deeds. On Monday, Jan. 17, the SPS community will observe MLK Day with a range of programs and activities to advance its own work in becoming Beloved Community.
A daylong celebration of and reflection on King’s legacy, this year’s MLK Day falls two days after what would have been King’s 93rd birthday on Jan. 15. An outward-looking day aimed at helping individuals better understand King’s work in the context of SPS and the world, the School’s observance will begin at 7:15 a.m. with a prayer breakfast in the Lower Dining Room, led by members of the SPS Chapel Council. Following breakfast, the community will take part in a special Chapel service featuring student musical performances and remarks by guest speaker the Rev. Paul Anthony Daniels II, assisting priest at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, New York. A theology doctoral student at Fordham University, Rev. Daniels is studying the work of Howard Washington Thurman, a prominent theologian, educator, and civil rights leader whose thinking influenced King.
Following Chapel, students will participate in one of three educational opportunities, each of which will entail viewing a civil rights-focused documentary and participating in group discussion. In small groups, students will view either “The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306,” about the last days of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.; “Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story”; or “My Name is Pauli Murray,” about Dr. Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray, a lawyer and civil rights activist who became an Episcopal priest. Students will then break for lunch in various locations and conclude their day with a performance in Memorial Hall, “At the Table with Dr. King,” and a final call to action that will outline ways they can continue to perpetuate the legacy of Dr. King.
Bethany Dickerson Wynder, the School’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, says this year’s program will draw on the successes of previous years’ MLK Day observances and incorporate the energy and ideas of the entire community. “I am excited about the opportunity to honor the legacy of Dr. King through meaningful and substantiative MLK Day programming that aligns with our diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice work at SPS,” she says.