Honoring MLK in a Virtual Way


Boston Latin School Gospel Choir sings “My World Needs You” during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day E-ssembly. (Photo by: Elizabeth Choi (III))

By Elyssa Cabey (III) , Contributing Writer

On January 20, Boston Latin School held the annual Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day of Awareness in the form of a virtual assembly and activities throughout the day.

Hosted by Osasenaga Idahor (I), the celebration’s theme was “Lift Every Voice.” The MLK Day Planning Committee comprised students and administrators, including Mr. Thomas Kennelly, Program Director for History and Global Understanding, and Assistant Head of School Danielle Murray.

“Everybody has their role,” states Mr. Kennelly. “Some people were working on the e-assembly. I was working on the service piece [and] other people were working on recording all the different things and editing the production.”


“Lift Every Voice”

The assembly began with a recording of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was taken from last year’s MLK Day celebration. The song played over photos of BLS students attending protests and volunteering.


Essay/Art Contests

Afterward, Selina Tang (III), the winner of this year’s MLK essay contest, read her essay aloud via video recording for the assembly. The topic was to discuss which voices in the community need to be lifted. BLS also held an art competition in honor of MLK, with this year’s winner being Giani Rodrigues (IV). During the assembly, they displayed several art contest submissions over the audio from MLK’s 1968 sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct.”


Treble Choir

The Treble Choir then performed the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day, Cassandra Batie and Jennifer Decilveo. Their rendition, directed by Mr. Ryan Snyder, a chorus teacher, featured solos from Doris Egbujie (III), Siena Furfaro (IV) and Laura Berberi (III).


The winner of this year’s first public declamation, Ruth Shiferaw (I), declaimed an excerpt from the speech “Yesterday I Was African, Today I Am Lost” by New Zealand poet Takunda Muzondiwa. The poem details the struggle of upholding one’s identity in a racist society.


BLS Big Band

Directed by Mr. Paul Pitts, BLS Big Band then performed Tower of Power’s “Diggin’ On James Brown” with vocals by Shamir Remy (I). Their performance was a tribute to the late actor and humanitarian Chadwick Boseman for his lead role in the 2014 James Brown biopic Get On Up.


BLS Step Squad

BLS Step Squad performed a socially distanced tribute to MLK outside of the school building, directed by Ms. Rose Delorme Metayer, Director of the McCarthy Center.


BLS Gospel Choir

BLS Gospel Choir sang “My World Needs You” by Kirk Franklin, as well as the spiritual “We Shall Overcome,” an anthem of the American Civil Rights movement. Directed by Ms. Kristen George, the performance video featured solos by members of the choir and students displaying messages related to social justice.



BLS Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) recited the Langston Hughes poem “I, Too” with other members of the school community. Participants altered the lines to be specific to their identity, highlighting BLS’s diversity. During previous MLK Day celebrations, BLS B.L.A.C.K members have performed an original spoken word piece in the auditorium. Shelsie Jean Laurent (I), the president of BLS B.L.A.C.K., says, “We couldn’t do a spoken word because we’re not in person, so we had to do a virtual recording of people saying the poem […] We had to adapt to everything.”


Inauguration Dance Tribute

In honor of the inauguration of Kamala Harris, the first female vice president of color, BLS students and faculty performed a dance tribute to Beyoncé’s “Bigger” at the end of the assembly. Dancers included both staff and students from various school organizations. The tribute showcased choreography by BLS Talented and Gifted, Tierra del Sol, BLS Dance, BLS Desi and Wolfpack Dance.


Post-Assembly Activities

Following the assembly, clubs hosted social justice-related activity sessions at which students could earn community service hours by participating in discussions or doing interactive work. Afterward, time was set aside for students to view the inauguration of President Joe Biden and attend social connections led by clubs featuring discussions about minority stigmas and equality.

On what impact she hoped MLK Day would have, Murray states, “I’m hoping that it was a big part of the conversation that we’re having as a school community, about being inclusive and celebrating the voices of the students in our community. […] I hope it was a day for community and connection.”