It is a Maret tradition to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a Service Fair that brings students and families together from across the school for a morning of action to help those in need in the wider DC community. Like many things this year, the recognition of Dr. King’s legacy has had to be reimagined.
In addition to lessons teachers are doing in their classrooms, Director of Community Engagement Krystle Merchant has put together a helpful guide for family service activities, and kindergarten teacher George Myers led a Lower School assembly about Dr. King’s life and his influence on the late Senator John Lewis.
Lower School Assembly
For young children, the life and work of Dr. King can seem like ancient history. Myers aimed to breathe life into that history, by sharing with children a bit about who Dr. King was as a child, student, young husband, minister, and father before being called to help lead the struggle for civil rights and Black freedom in the 1950s and 60s. He explained that Dr. King suffered and died in his efforts to create change, but that he also inspired a young John Lewis to get into “good trouble.” To help the children make connections to the past, Myers showed a picture of his mother and cousin marching in Washington, DC, and told the story of seeing Lewis honored at his HBCU.
Family Service Activities
As an introduction to the service activities, Merchant explained to Lower and Middle School students the idea of agape love, something that Dr. King spoke about often: "Agape love…is a kind of love which asks us to take care of others, to recognize and respond to their needs, to make sacrifices to improve their lives, and to do all of that without asking them to be a certain way or act a certain way first."
To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the school community engages in service activities in the spirit of practicing agape love. To support families in their own service activities, Merchant’s guide offers a short biography of Dr. King, as well as links to additional resources to learn more about his work and that of his contemporaries. It also includes a list of discussion questions and a range of service ideas appropriate for all ages. As Merchant reminds us, “One of the powerful lessons of the Children's Crusade, or Project C, in Birmingham in 1963 was that young people of all ages were ready and able to be a part of the movement for equality.”