Silas Summers ’23 and Celsie Gicheru ’24 were two Gould students at the forefront of planning for the day. Both are members of the Gould civil rights group REAL (Revealing relevant opportunities, Evaluating equity, Activating activism, and Learning). They helped select the film choices for the day and helped to craft the talking points for the discussions that followed.
“It is important to celebrate the life of Dr. King because he dedicated his life to achieving equality and justice for the Black community,” says Celsie. “The least we can do is spend this day recognizing him!”
Silas and Gould Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Stephanie Montgomery P’00 began the day by addressing the community remotely. Silas shared his hope that everyone view this work as ongoing.
“I want all of you to carry this day and this movement with you for the rest of your lives. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't accomplish all he did in one day.” Silas reiterated that “it shouldn't be once a year refresh button. It should be with you always like the phones in our back pockets.”
Ms. Montgomery then inspired and challenged the student body and faculty in a tenor uniquely her own.
“Dr. King was known as the Drum Major for justice. My hope is by the end of the day as you have these discussions, that you too put on that mantle so that collectively we can, as individuals and as a community, move forward on those legacies that Dr. King has left us. We can also begin the very important conversation about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, what that means, and how we can use that in our lives on a daily basis...I invite you to enjoy the day and remember to celebrate and honor Dr. King in your words, actions, and behaviors.”
Several advisory groups screened Selma
in Trustees Auditorium and were fortunate enough to have Ms. Montgomery join them for the conversation with first-hand accounts of the events that took place in the film. Students took advantage of the opportunity and benefitted from a perspective that wasn't dramatized by Hollywood.
As part of the discussion prompts, REAL challenged everyone to think about how DEIB applies to their life at Gould now, and what events or activities could REAL sponsor to make Gould a more welcoming space.
Students spoke about the disparities for international students and the high cost of some programs. They talked about adding trigger warnings to videos and discussed a lack of diversity in the student body. They proposed having opportunities to connect that aren't centered around athletic competition.
The common thread was that students spoke with compassion for their classmates and exhibited empathy for others. They thought deeply and critically during this character-building exercise. The conversation has started, and students are taking the steps toward enacting real change.
Special thanks to Caroline Murphy, Rose Goldberg ’15, Maggie Davis, and Stephanie Montgomery P’00 for their hard work in organizing the day.