The Martha O’Bryan Center Adult Education Class recently held their Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in anticipation of the holiday weekend. The well-attended event was open to the public and the program was led by instructor Kenya McDonald.
The informal ceremony began with a prayer by our own Chaplain DaMarrus Miller, followed by a viewing of a video of the song, “I Have a Dream,” by Will.I.Am and Common.
Attendees then joined together to sing several traditional songs, such as “Free at Last.” Several students and attendees revealed they had true singing capabilities.
Chaplain Miller was joined by Shawn and Mr. Smith to read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in its entirety, which proved to be very powerful.
The multimedia portion of the program ended with everyone singing a rousing rendition of “Respect” along with Aretha Franklin on video. Our Community Engagement and Recreation Specialist from AmeriCorps VISTA, Sophia Di Maria, then led participants in a community art project.
Everyone colored-in a portion of a poster of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which was later reassembled by Sophia and Emrie on the hallway outside the classroom. The class then sang “Happy Birthday” to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before having a piece of birthday cake in his honor.
Director of Adult Learning, Emrie Smith, and our Community Engagement Specialist from AmeriCorps VISTA, Sophia Di Maria, provided their own insightful commentary on the celebration below…
“What was significant to me was hearing staff and students read the “I Have a Dream Speech” together. It was a powerful way to experience Dr. King’s words and the hope they still convey. As a white person, it’s hard to describe the amount of honor and privilege I felt in getting to participate in that expression of shared hope and celebration with my students and peers of color. I feel lucky to not only be present with them, but to love them as dear friends. I am always learning more about the depths of struggle my students have come through and the faith and resilience that they have had to develop teaches and challenges me. It was a hope-filled experience that reminded us that the dream of equality is still alive, and that a microcosm of the community that Dr. King imagined is right here in our little classroom.”
—Emrie Smith, Director of Adult Learning
“It brought a lot of joy to be a part of growing the sense of community in our Adult Ed Classroom. I really enjoyed this opportunity to not only celebrate the importance of Dr. King and the history of the civil rights movement, but also celebrate our community members’ talents. It was amazing to see the collaboration between our staff and students in reciting the ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech, singing the songs, and making pieces of the mural all together. Integrating the chance for participants to share their personal dreams in the mural was also special, I think—especially for our Adult Education students.”