While this week of unseasonably mild January days might belie the following statement, in general, it seems that the St. Louis winter months are a particularly reflective time for many of us. We as families often huddle by the fire (inside and outside at TCS!) and share quiet, thoughtful moments. Next week Martin Luther King, Jr. Day provides us with the perfect opportunity to be contemplative and gauge where we are as a school, a community, and a nation.
Most Americans know on some level the life and legacy of MLK Jr. as a relentless and transformational leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Towards the end of his life, however, MLK Jr.’s public political and social views became more progressive and inclusive–some might say radical–as he more frequently addressed the inherent interconnectedness of oppressed identities, devoting later career speeches/marches/support to the plight of women, the poor, and those disproportionately affected by the conflict in Vietnam, while continuing to lead the push for racial equality in the United States.
As we celebrate the life and work of MLK Jr., it’s crucial that we avoid compartmentalizing the pursuit of justice, taking every opportunity in public and private to acknowledge and address all forms of injustice. We must remember that ultimately no one is free unless everyone is free. Our ability to thrive and make progress as a society depends on this. In the spirit of MLK’s intersectional approach to social justice, TCS has:
– Established our first Gender/Sexuality alliance–a place where young folks with questions and emerging identities can not only learn about themselves but also how to support others in the LGBTQIA+ community;
– Begun work on establishing parent affinity groups–a place for parents of shared racial backgrounds to gather in community for fellowship with the goal of strengthening TCS values and principles;
– Initiated a faculty/staff book study of Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist – a text that bluntly examines the many forms of racism while providing tangible strategies to root it out;
– Created “Social Justice in Action,” a Middle School course offering designed to expose students to the history of social justice movements (particularly in the 20th and 21st century) while providing a model of how to implement change in their own communities;
– Begun preparations to institute restorative justice practices in our classrooms as a way of modeling alternative approaches to community conflict and repair.
Above all else, MLK Day provides a renewed call to action to reject hate and dismantle oppression, wherever we encounter them. We at TCS will never shirk this privilege.