Students Celebrate the Legacy of MLK Jr.



MLK Jr. Day activities in previous years included speakers in Elfers Hall. This year’s programming was held virtually.

“What are things white people should never say or do?” This was one of many questions submitted for the Community Conversation the Black and Hispanic Student Association (BaHSA) hosted as part of the Martin Luther King Jr.  Day programming on January 17 and 18. 

This year’s theme for MLK Jr. Day was Legacy. Co-Head of BaHSA, Mwicigi Wainana ’21 explained, “People tend to have the idea that once we’re done with MLK Jr. programming, we’re done. Not only do we have to continue these conversations during our time at Hotchkiss, but we have to make sure that once we leave, what we did had a lasting impact at Hotchkiss. If we can all do our part to leave behind that anti-racist legacy, it would really make a huge impact on the experiences of students of color.”

Over the weekend, community members were invited to view the film Between the World and Me, directed by Kamilah Forbes. This film is an adaption of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ #1 New York Times Bestseller of the same name. The school also supplied an electronic copy of the book to all students.

 The main feature of MLK Jr. Day was a panel including Forbes and Seth Gilliam P’24, moderated by Leah Gardiner P’24, entitled “How to Access, Persevere, and Succeed in Spaces Not Originally Designed For You.” Forbes is a respected director and producer who currently serves as Executive Producer at the world famous Apollo Theater. Gilliam is an actor known for his work in theatre, films, and hit television shows including The Wire, Teen Wolf and The Walking Dead. Gardiner, an Obie-Award winning director, is also known for her work in theatre. Wainana said, “Hollywood is a space that wasn’t made for people of color. The people on the silver screen have always been predominantly white and for the most part, it’s not an accepting space. The hope is that students can learn how to succeed in a predominantly white institution like Hotchkiss.”

In the afternoon, each class discussed ideas for a Legacy Project that would give students  active roles in ending racism in the community. The sessions were led by Dr. Carolyn Corrado, a lecturer in the department of sociology and an affiliate in Latin American and Carribean Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and resident in Flinn. Students reflected on the legacy they would like to leave behind in breakout groups. Each class will continue to work on their legacy projects in the Spring.

After the day’s programming, BaHSA hosted an hour-long community conversation titled “Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask About Race, and Real Talk: Race in the World” that gave students a chance to reflect on the MLK Jr. Day programming.