Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at IMS

IMG_6827IMS learns from Stacey Walker and explores MLK’s legacy across content areas

The challenge is to ask yourself: “Is my fate intrinsically tied to that of my fellow countrymen?” If the answer is yes, and you need to confront something that isn’t right, I hope you do something about it. -Stacey Walker in his address to IMS on Tuesday

This week IMS recognized the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, guest speaker Stacey Walker challenged students, staff, and faculty to further justice and democracy by “unleash[ing] the full power of [their] mind[s].” He demonstrated how action starts with an idea through an exploration of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. His hope was that students could see themselves reflected in the activists of the past. Walker shared how poverty and racism influenced his personal life. Violence has also impacted his life–Walker told the story of losing his mother to an unsolved homicide as a young boy and being raised by his grandmother in Cedar Rapids. He stated that his main hope for Linn County and Iowa is to end the cycle of poverty which, he acknowledged, takes time. Walker, a University of Iowa graduate, is the first African American elected to the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

Students also examined poverty, racism, nonviolent resistance, reconciliation, and other less well-known activists and leaders involved in the Civil Rights movement during their regular classes. Some of the activities are listed below.

The day was inspiring, educational, and challenging.  Students and faculty alike were challenged to think critically and act compassionately. And that, according to Walker’s citation of Bertrand Russell, is “subversive and revolutionary.” The quote continues, “Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth [because] thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit.”

May we all we all never grow comfortable to habits of injustice.

  • Choir sang and discussed the background of “As I Went Down to The River.”
  • Speech class listened to and evaluated MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech
  • Math classes showed a short trailer of the movie Hidden Figures about African-American women who contributed significantly to the space program. They also analyzed statistics related to race and justice (incarceration, poverty, etc.) in our current society.
  • Spanish classes researched Latinos of the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Biology and general science classes looked at the life of George Washington Carver.
  • Ag classes explored the history of FFA’s segregation into the FFA and the NFA. The two organizations merged in 1965.
  • World History classes examined The Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) from the French Revolution, and compared them to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) written by the United Nations. American History compared Booker T Washington’s The Atlanta Compromise speech to an excerpt from W.E.B. Dubois’ The Souls of Black Folks. Government class looked at MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963) primarily through an artist’s images on twitter.
  • Sculpture classes worked on a joint project featuring the symbols of a dove, snake, and chains to explore the themes of peace, reconciliation, racism, and equality.
  • Photography and graphic design classes worked on collages of images to explore the same themes as above.