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Wellesley Celebrates MLK Day With Breakfast

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By Via Perkins
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

World of Wellesley orchestrated a poignant and stirring presentation on January 18 to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Faculty, students, and community members gathered in Wellesley College’s Alumnae Hall for the 8:30 a.m. event, complete with singers, dancers, speeches and an activity. 2016 marked the 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast event held by the organization, which has had a strong presence in Wellesley for well over two decades.

Seventeen tables filled up quickly with attendees, and lively conversations were made over a light breakfast provided by World of Wellesley. Michelle Chalmers, President of World of Wellesley, commenced the event with opening remarks, with a call to “celebrate the life and spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.” not only through reflections, but through actions as well.

Robbin Chapman, Associate Provost and Academic Director of Diversity Inclusion at Wellesley College, corroborated these sentiments.

“It takes all of us giving our time and talent… to make Wellesley a place where everyone can recognize their potential,” she emphasized. Chapman asked the audience to keep in mind Dr. King’s sentiment, “All life is interrelated,” as they go about their days.

A thoughtful invocation was read by Amira Quraishi, the Muslim Chaplain at Wellesley College, before two performance groups took the stage. First, a stirring performance of the Black American National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James and John Johnson by the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, and a high-energy routine by the Wellesley High Thunder Step Squad, featuring a complex synchronized dance and cheer.

Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernandez, current interim President of MassBay Community College, delivered the keynote speech. She spoke of the rapid demographic changes taking place today, and instructed the audience to throw aside the outdated “melting pot” notion of American culture.

Instead of trying to homogenize the diverse races, ethnicities, and culture that exist within our country, Salomon-Fernandez encouraged the audience to think of the U.S. as a tapestry that we are weaving together.

As an educator, Salomon-Fernandez notes the wide achievement and pay gaps between people of different races.

“We need teachers to be color-conscious, not color-blind,” she cautioned.

She informed attendees that Boston is one of a number of U.S. cities that is now a minority-majority, and yet, public school systems in the northeast are still the most racially segregated in the country. Increasingly, she said, there is a need for an education system that “will work for people of all backgrounds,” which is one of the most direct routes to equity for all.

The Kuumba Singers graced listeners with two more songs in the spirit of the black Christian tradition of the 1960s. Afterward, Tiffany Steinwert, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at Wellesley College, directed the audience in a quote reflection activity, reminding them that it is “up to us” to set into motion the changes we wish to see.

To help guide inspiration into action, she asked each table to discuss selected quotes from Dr. King, and for each person to write one action they would take to live out his dream on that day.

After writing their actions on sticky notes, many attendees adhered them to posters on the wall, creating bright collages that surrounded Dr. King’s image and words – a moving and appropriate gesture to honor his legacy and make his dream a reality.

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