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Manhattan Country School's 27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March

8th Graders Lead an Inspiring MLK March in Harlem

More than 200 people gathered in Harlem on Monday for Manhattan Country School’s 27th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March. The event, planned by the school’s 8th graders to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader, brought out families, teachers and staff, alumni, supporters in the community, and the media.

The theme of this year’s march was “Daring to Dream: A March of Hope.” Under the guidance of MCS English Teacher Tom Grattan, the school’s 18 8th graders spent several weeks planning the march—selecting the route and writing speeches about their hopes and desires for their generation and the ones that will follow.

Eighth grader Samori Coates opened the event at the site of the former Renaissance Ballroom and Casino, which is in jeopardy of being demolished, with the following remarks:

“Here we stand in front of what was once a safe haven. A home to black people who otherwise were abused, oppressed, and disenfranchised. A house where blacks and whites could gather together for the sake of basketball. Yet, as we stand here this building is going to be torn down. A sign of equality in a neighborhood that is treated otherwise is about to be torn down. There is no justice in such an act. There is no empathy, sympathy, or even respect. Yet, in the one true place where justice is meant to flourish, I’ve found that there is none. Here we stand, a place that was once a beautiful red brick building is now a desolate, abandoned, and neglected structure. A building that once was a safe haven and beacon of hope for people of color is soon to be torn down and manipulated into another haven for the upper class. This building is the perfect representation of the American Justice System.”

Samori went on to speak passionately about the recent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police and the failures of the country’s prison system.

From the Renaissance Ballroom the march traveled to The Apollo Theater, the Harlem Community Justice Center, the City Council District Eight Office, the Young Women’s Leadership School, and Manhattan Country School. At each stop, the eighth graders spoke eloquently about issues ranging from racism in sports, the global AIDS crisis, and immigration to bullying and street harassment, environmental racism, income inequality, and poverty. Their profound words illustrated the compassion and commitment to social justice that has been nurtured during their time at MCS. (A publication of all the students’ speeches will be available next month.)

MCS is grateful to everyone who helped make this day a success.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March is just one example of the social justice and activism programs supported by your generous contributions to the MCS Annual Fund.

Martin Luther King Commemorative March Newsletter

Read the speeches that the MCS 8th graders gave during the MLK March

Photo Gallery
(click through to see pictures from the march)

In the News

Your generous contribution to the Annual Fund supports our commitment to social justice, activism, and diversity throughout our community.