MS Unity Circle Celebrates MLK's Legacy
Middle School Unity Circle Club Virtually Celebrates MLK’s Legacy with UMass Dartmouth
In late January, the Sayville Middle School’s Unity Circle Club members were formally invited by the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth to attend a special virtual celebration honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The 19th Annual Breakfast was streamed live via ZOOM into the Middle School Library so the seven in-person and three remote Unity Circle Club students could “attend,” along with some occasional Middle School visitors, including Principal Dr. Joe Castoro, Assistant Principal Brian Decker, and teacher Lindsey Loscalzo who “popped in to see part of the presentation as well.”
The event’s theme Call to Action: Then and Now, looked back at the activist actions of Dr. King and how that legacy has translated into current racial-equality movements.
The Middle School students listened to the Opening Remarks by the recently appointed UMass Interim Chancellor Mark Fuller, saw a lively performances by the student-led D'SWORD Gospel Choir, and experienced the dynamic address by the keynote speaker, award-winning social-justice leader, activist, and mother, Tamika D. Mallory.*
Middle School Unity Circle Club Advisor Kellie Lindskog could see that her students were quite impressed with the entire virtual presentation. “The moderators David Gomes, chief diversity officer, and Dakeyla Johnson, a senior at UMass did an excellent job engaging the keynote speaker, Tamika Mallory, in a lively Q & A format. Mallory spoke about many people who inspired her to activism, including Kimberlee Crenshaw, who introduced the idea of intersectionality as it relates to social justice and also Dr. Hazel Dukes, who is the President of the NAACP New York State Conference and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors.”
During her talk, Mallory acknowledges that Dr. King's March on Washington had been her inspiration for the Women's March on Washington in 2017—an event that triggered comparable events around the world with over five million participants. She also spoke about “the importance of building a ‘table’ that members of all marginalized groups can sit at to have conversations about social justice,” Mrs. Lindskog reported. “She encouraged students to be a part of the world that fights for justice.”
The takeaway for the Middle School Unity Circle students was varied although they all agreed how impactful the celebration was in helping them understand much more about Dr. King’s message and the push for social justice. Even after the UMass presentation ended, it stimulated a 40-minute dialogue among the Unity Club members about what they saw and heard. The general consensus was overwhelmingly positive; they thought “Tamika Mallory was very brave, very passionate, and a very engaging speaker.” One student commented, “How she [Mallory] was able to come back later in her life after hardships and still become successful.” Another student also remarked on the extraordinary reversal Mallory made in her life, “When she [Mallory] talked about how she was a runaway and got pregnant young, it showed me that your past doesn't decide your future.” Other students expressed a clearer perspective regarding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s activism. “When I hear about Dr. King or hear his speeches, I feel interested about what I'm learning and glad that I can make change,” and “I think that he did a lot of great things and helped started the movement for equality with black people.”
Middle School Social Worker Dawn Lloyd-Mathews who helped launch the Unity Club attended the presentation virtually and noted, “The speaker was able to share her experiences and compare it to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr who paved the way for the fight for equality for all. …How far we have come, but work still needs to be done.”
“It is an honor to be invited to this special presentation from a major university,” remarked Kellie Lindskog who had piloted the club for three years prior to its Board approval and has since been its advisor. “As a club, we are also grateful to Dr. Castoro for giving us permission to attend this special event and Mrs. Dawn Lloyd-Mathews who has remained involved in the club to date. I am very proud of my advisory!” Mrs. Lindskog added, “Thanks also to the efforts of UMass faculty, Educational Technology Department Director Peggy Dias who coordinated the program with the Middle School as well as Dr. LaSella Hall (Frederick Douglass Unity House Associate Director and President of the New Bedford NAACP) and David Gomes (Chief Diversity Officer) who were instrumental in allowing us to attend.”
* Tamika D Mallory is the co-chair of the Women's March, co-founder of Until Freedom, and served as the youngest ever Executive Director of the National Action Network.
As co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, Mallory helped organize the largest single-day demonstration in American history. Most recently, Mallory co-founded Until Freedom, an intersectional social-justice organization that serves as a clearinghouse for organizers, activists, movement attorneys, artists, celebrities, and formerly incarcerated individuals. Tamika also co-hosts the Street Politicians podcast on iHeart Radio’s Black Effect Network. She was named as one of Time’s 100’s Most Influential People in the world as well as featured on Fortune’s 2017 list of the World’s Greatest Leaders and is being hailed as one of the most influential Black voices in the nation.
To view a short video about the origins of Black History Month and Dr Carter Woodson, the "father" of black history month, click on the image below.