MLK’s Vision Begins with Students


Gianni Rodriguez (II) is the creator of the winning MLK artwork. (Source: Alex Strand (I))

By Harrison Tran (I) and Anneliese Yu (VI)

The Martin Luther King, Jr., (MLK) Day celebration is one of the most important traditions at Boston Latin School. Not only do we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., but we also celebrate our talented peers who seek to make their mark on the world. This year’s celebration took place on January 13 and included several dances, musical and spoken word performances from BLS Gospel Choir, Treble Choir, Big Band, BLS Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge and other student groups.

BLS’s annual art and essay contest challenged students to consider this year’s theme, “Our Stories, Our Dreams, It Begins With Me.” Amirah Redwing (II) and Giani Rodrigues (II) rose to the occasion and expressed their artistic visions through prose and art to make this event an MLK day to remember.

Redwing, the winner of the essay contest, felt that “our dreams” were the most inspiring part of this year’s theme, sharing, “I have the [hope] and dreams of generations, and you must too.” Her dreams motivate her to craft the world that she envisions. When thinking about the future, it is essential to think about the past. Redwing explains, “I wanted to start by acknowledging those who came before me. Those before me whose words, ideas, courage and resilience have shaped the way I view the world as well as how I wish to shape the future.”

Redwing wanted to show the bravery, courage and strength of her ancestors and honor their legacy by continuing their dream of creating a more loving world. She was also inspired by the works of Stan Lee and his superheroes, who maintain that great powers come with great responsibilities. She believes that we must fight for social equity for ourselves, and also for those before and after us.

Rodrigues, this year’s art contest winner, wanted to pay tribute to the many recent  accomplishments in the Black community, while also acknowledging the major social issues of today.

For Rodrigues, the phrase “It Begins With Me” from this year’s theme is most important. She feels that we have a personal responsibility in all of our actions and that “we can give support to what’s going on and demand changes.”

In describing how her composition conveys these concepts, she explains that her piece “has shadows, darkness and lots of grays, showing past and [present] struggles.” The future is symbolized by a young girl in the foreground, surrounded by stars to “represent younger generations and progress as we strive for equity for the Black community.”

Alongside Redwing and Rodrigues, BLS art teacher Mr. Stephen Harris and his students painted a mural that was unveiled at the MLK Day celebration. Nearly 10 years ago, Mr. Harris and his students created a similar mural to commemorate MLK day.

That mural, however, was beginning to age, and Mr. Harris wanted to recreate it. Thus, he ordered a massive canvas in the summer and began a new painting process on January 9. In under a week, Mr. Harris and his group of student volunteers were able to paint a large blue and red portrait of MLK. The project was completed on January 12.

MLK Day is a time to celebrate the life, accomplishments and hopes of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the dreams that he inspired within subsequent generations. Through their art and writing, the talented artists showcased at the MLK Day festivities have successfully realized these visions.