King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech inspiration for Bement students

  • Students in Megan O’Brien’s eighth-grade advisory class create “thought bubbles,” declarations of what they hope for the world in the future, during an event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at The Bement School in Deerfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Students post “thought bubbles,” declarations of what they hope for the world in the future, in The Barn during an event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at The Bement School in Deerfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Students attend an event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in The Barn at The Bement School in Deerfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • “Thought bubbles,” declarations of what students hope for the world in the future, line a wall in The Barn during an event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at The Bement School in Deerfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Bement School student Jurnee Jones speaks in The Barn during an event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Bement School student Theo Conte speaks in The Barn during an event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 1/20/2020 10:35:14 PM

DEERFIELD — The Bement School had a special guest speaker on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The man, for whom the federal holiday is named after, took to the podium on Monday to address his brothers and sisters, of various races, to encourage them to help this nation “live out the true meaning of its creed.” Yes, King was assassinated in April 1968, but he still managed to captivate a room 57 years later with his powerful voice and sermon-like tempo.

Bement students and staff were entranced watching the civil rights icon deliver his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, which was projected onto a screen. It was part of an event the day and boarding school holds every year to honor someone who became a martyr for compassion and human dignity. The school community sang inspiring songs and heard from Student Council members and their head of school before breaking off into separate activities.

“We use the day as an opportunity to teach Dr. King’s history and legacy,” Head of School Christopher Wilson said in his office. “How can his message inspire us to be not only a better school but a better society?”

Delivered on Aug. 28, 1963, “I Have A Dream” is arguably King’s most revered speech. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the then-34-year-old Christian minister called on the American people to heal its racial wounds and come together as family.

“In a sense, we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” he declared. “This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Jurnee Jones was the first student to address the school, reading a speech that was partially an open letter to King.

“Thank you for speaking out for what you believe in. Thank you for using your words to inspire others,” she said. “Today, my speech is to show that Martin’s legacy lives on. Today is the day that we should especially be thankful for his birthday. Thank you for everything you have done. Sincerely, Jurnee Jones.”

Theo Conte followed her, and attempted to debunk what he considers a myth — that societies change as a matter of course. He said the abolition of slavery, nationwide desegregation, women’s suffrage and even the founding of the United States were made possible by people fighting to turn dreams into reality.

“This is why protest and resistance are as essential as they are,” he said firmly. “Societies do improve. They do change and they do so all the time. But it’s because this resistance and this conflict is happening all the time.”

Other student speakers were Alex Bagley, Erica Kang and Kaelin Creagh.

Students also created “thought bubbles,” words and illustrations depicting what they wish for the world’s future. These pieces of paper were taped to the walls of The Barn. Some of the thought bubbles mentioned desires for all schools to start composting, for all lost and kidnapped children to be found safe, for a cure for cancer, for education equality in China, and for dinosaurs to come back to life because “no animal deserves to completely die out due to extinction.”

Founded in 1925, Bement serves students in grades kindergarten through ninth. This year, there are 225 students from 12 states and 20 countries.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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