Assembly honors Martin Luther King Jr., emphasizes active activism


Martin Luther King Jr. assembly

The theme of the Martin Luther King Jr. assembly was reclaiming the Black Lives Matter hashtag.

Peter Pu, News Editor

The Martin Luther King Jr. assembly Jan. 13 organized by the Black Students’ Association featured speakers presenting themes of reclaiming the Black Lives Matter hashtag and engaging in the movement through action rather than performative activism.

“In 2020, Black Americans asked the world to think about Black Lives Matter as a movement rather than a moment,” Naadia Owens, BSA co-adviser, said. “The theme of this year’s assembly, ‘Reclaim the Hashtag,’ asks Lab’s community to do the same.”

Guest presenter Hasan Kwame Jeffries, associate professor of history at The Ohio State University, spoke about how protestors supporting Black Lives Matter have sought justice, recognition of Black humanity and historical truth. He put the protests in the context of continual Black resistance throughout history and encouraged listeners to consider Martin Luther King Jr. beyond his “I Have a Dream” speech. 

“It’s true that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it only bends toward justice if we exert a force to bend it in that direction,” Dr. Jeffries said, emphasizing the importance of action in activism. “If left to its own devices, the arc of the moral universe, certainly the American concept, will bend toward injustice.”

Black Students’ Association president Mikaela Ewing said that despite the adaptations made to accommodate the assembly’s virtual setting, the process of finding a speaker was easier than previous years as Dr. Jeffries could give his presentation on Zoom. 

The agenda also included a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by lower school science teacher Mikki Sanders, a presentation by the middle school Black Students’ Association and videos defining allyship and “slacktivism,” an unproductivity associated with passive social media activism.

According to Mikaela, performances from clubs, students and faculty were not included in the agenda. 

“We would have been asking too much of people who already had enough on their plates or they may not have been able to think of something in a virtual setting,” Mikaela said. 

Mikaela noted the importance of recognizing that the points covered in the assembly reflect actual experiences in the community. 

“We just want to make sure that everyone, like we’ve always said, is taking on what we said with an open mind, listening thoughtfully and being aware that these are people’s experiences,” Mikaela said.