18 MLK Assemblies IMG 5068Over the past two weeks, Nueva's weekly assemblies in both Hillsborough and Bay Meadows honored the life and faith of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In Hillsborough, Social Justice and Equity Coordinator Alegria Barclay shared Dr. King’s words — “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself” — to illustrate the importance of Dr. King’s relationship with God and how it compelled him to service.

Alegria said, “The intention to achieve justice is often a long, difficult struggle, and religion helps many people to remain positive through that struggle and see what's possible.”

Following Alegria’s introduction, students heard from middle school associate teacher Sana Shukairy, who recently volunteered with her family in Costa Rica. After learning about the service organization Dream Volunteers during a lunchtime student club meeting, Sana immediately reached out to them about the possibility of traveling with her husband and children.

“Charity is the pillar of my faith,” explained Sana, who practices Islam. “The trip was a gift to me and my family, but also a gift to the community, because all the volunteers that go there help make life better for the coffee farmers.”

Before heading off to academies and choice time, students and faculty reflected on their own faith and the ways in which it compels them to act. The students created faith flags, seen in the slideshow that follows this article, which will be displayed around campus in the coming weeks.

In Bay Meadows, upper school history teacher Brian Cropper worked with Alegria to curate an incredible day full of guest speakers, workshops, and opportunity to reflect on the intersection of faith and service.

“It was our intention to shed light on the importance of Christianity in Dr. King’s life and work,” Brian said. “He was compelled to action by his understanding of Christianity, and sustained by the support and teachings of various faith communities around the world.”

During the morning session, Nueva parent and board trustee Vernon Grigg introduced Rev. Amos Brown, leader of the San Francisco’s famed Third Baptist Chuch. Vernon took the time to contextualize the reverend’s childhood —reminding students about the conditions of the Jim Crow south, the death of Emmett Till, and the life and death of Medgar Evers, who was a mentor to Rev. Brown in his youth. Vernon made sure students were aware that Rev. Brown was one of only a handful of students to ever be part of a class taught by Dr. King.

Greeted by a standing ovation, Rev. Brown spoke for over an hour to a captive audience. He provided the students with a firsthand history lesson of the civil rights movement and provided his perspective on the state of affairs at this moment in America.

Rev. Brown focused much of his talk on Dr. King’s belief in Personalism ­— the idea that “every human being has value, dignity, and a divine spark of God within them.” He urged students to “stop being cynical” and reminded them that Dr. King, after spending his life studying and learning from all of the major religions, “came to the realization that all world religions had at their core the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto to other as you would have them do unto you.'”

When asked by one student about the greatest challenge facing his young generation, the reverend immediately responded, “There's a risk of becoming a ‘cut-flower generation.’ We need to use tools, like Facebook and Twitter, wisely. We used to have elders talking with young. We don’t talk together like we used to. We need to connect with people in authentic and real ways. When you take a coal off of a fire, the fire goes out! Did you ever hear one note on a piano being played over and over? It is obnoxious! But, an octave, or a chord is beautiful. We need to talk together and listen to each other.”

Vernon, reflecting on Rev. Brown’s speech and his motivations for inviting him to spend time with our students, said, “Reverend Brown expresses his views on religion in such a unique way. The substance of his reflections, his life experience, and the manner in which he communicates in the style of the Southern Baptist tradition provide a unique experience for these students, one that I am really happy that they had the opportunity to share and hopefully gain insight from. Not everyone is going to agree with the substance of what he says, but that is the nature of our free speech ­— listening, thinking, contemplating, and accepting. I think that was wonderful for the community.”

After lunch, which featured blessings from faculty members of different faiths and foods from various cultural backgrounds, students and faculty reconvened for an interfaith panel featuring a moderator and six representatives of major world religions.

Each panelist provided an overview of their faith and beliefs and then spoke at length about the intersection of faith and service.

Reflecting on the day, Brian said, “Activism is difficult work and it takes a community of support to sustain it meaningfully.  Drawing on Dr. King’s intentions, we hoped to provide students with interfaith context and the chance to learn about the myriad ways all religions have motivated individuals to make decisions that benefit the world.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly

 


 January 24, 2018

GRADES PK-8

HILLSBOROUGH
CAMPUS

6565 Skyline Blvd.
Hillsborough, CA 94010

650-350-4600

GRADES 9-12

BMMiniMap

BAY MEADOWS
CAMPUS

131 E. 28th Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403

650-235-7100

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