Moved to Tears – MLK Day at Gould
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which at Gould means that we take a day off from “regular” classes and devote the day to focusing, as a community, on learning in a different way. This year’s theme is Poverty: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally. Every minute of the day was powerful, but as the title of this post implies, a couple of moments moved me to tears. The first came during the morning assembly, as Beth Clarke was speaking. Beth is the the Principal of an elementary school in the area (a school with 75% of the students on free or reduced lunch.) She is also the mother of a Gould alum, the parent of three current students, and the wife of Brad Clarke, our History Department Chair. The stories she told about the students in her school, and the work that she and others do everyday to make a difference in their lives, were heartbreaking and heartwarming, at the same time. She put a human face on poverty; the face of a smiling child. I can’t do justice to her stories, but I felt I was there with her as she talked to a young boy who needed sneakers and a young girl who was making her plan for staying warm at night. I cried quietly in the back row as she shared her story.
I’ll come to the second time I cried in a bit, but first some more about the day. The program was a blend of speakers, music, student-led workshops, a special lunch, readings, sharing, and caring. I heard John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and Sam Cooke sung in the voices of students from New York City, Shanghai, and Mexico City, respectively. I attended workshops, presented by students, on the events in Ferguson, Missouri, Chinese immigration, and the life of the Somali community in nearby Lewiston, Maine. I heard students read their essays about poverty in America.
During the afternoon assembly, as has been our tradition for several years now, there was a reading of MLK’s I Have a Dream speech, with someone from each advisory group reading lines from the speech. The second time I shed a tear today came as Doug Alford, (Gould parent, Spanish teacher, and advisor) stood and boomed out the closing lines of the speech, ” Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Today we lived up to the part of our mission that calls for us to “help them (our students) become independent-minded, ethical citizens who will lead lives of purpose, action, excellence, and compassion in a dynamic world.”
Thanks to all who had a hand in making today special and to bringing this old guy to tears, not once, but twice.