Upper School students honor Martin Luther King, Jr. through worship
A joint service honoring the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. was held on Thursday, January 17, 2019.
Upper School students from St. Christopher's and St. Catherine's gathered at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Thursday, January 17 to celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You can watch the service in its entirety using the video player below.
Kaleb Bey '20, delivered the following remarks during the service:
Last summer, I signed up for a STEM-H program at VCU. Well, *I* didn’t sign up, my mother signed me up, but In my 17 years of life, I have learned that it is best to not argue with your mother. Nonetheless, I have been interested in the field of Sports Medicine for a while now and I was excited to be in an environment with people who I thought would be just like me. So you can imagine my surprise, when I found out that most of the students in the program were blind, or visually impaired. I was taken aback, but definitely more than I should have been, considering how my experience went.
Throughout the five weeks of the program, we worked in labs, with fake arms to practice blood draws, and worked with fine instruments to practice inoculations with bacteria. We took an engineering course building circuit boards, and we studied the future of technology in the health industry. And at every step, my visually impaired classmates kept up. They used text to speech software to study articles, they felt their way around the labs to find the tools they needed, they used their fingertips to find the bulge of the veins where the best blood draw could be found. Not only did they keep up but at times they were better than the rest of us. At listening, following directions, feeling their way around experiments and measurements, their abilities exceeded their deficits.
They were better at many aspects of the work, and definitely better at asking for help when they needed it. It became clear to me, that maybe they had chosen a program that introduced them into health and wellness fields because they had a deeper of understanding of what healing and helping others meant. They didn’t let that obvious barrier stop them from doing something that they truly wanted to do, and in fact, they even used it as motivation.
I’m not going to lie. If I had known this course was going to be filled with visually impaired students, I would not have signed up for it, no matter what my mother said. I would have thought it wasn’t for me. I would’ve known I’d be uncomfortable. It was the belief that THEY are different from ME— but, they weren’t. I was just leading with my fear of the unknown.
I’ve been an admirer of Martin Luther King for many years. I was first taken by his fearlessness. His voice, speaking into hard times and places with such high hopes for the future. Things such as “I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land”. His way, wasn’t my way. I tended to be shy, and would draw away from conflict, worried about it getting worse. I’d turn away from uneasy situations. But not King. He seemed drawn to opportunities to speak of what is possible and inspire people to dream about it. It doesn’t matter if I’ve never been to a literal “mountaintop”. His rhetoric carried me there, and I could see with him farther than my urban viewpoint could ever afford.
Somewhere in the midst of that summer program, surrounded by people with whom I would have never identified, I finally understood a concept that Dr. King preached for years. Inclusive communities, when there are deep relationships between people of difference, whether they be physical, ideological, racial or political, are simply.. better. Not because it looks better for a promotional ad or because its fashionable, but because people are happier in relationship rather than division.
He didn’t preach civil rights because its better for black people. He preached civil rights because it’s better for all people, black, white, rich, poor, sighted, blind, able bodied or disabled.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of hope, which leads us to a better being. King would often speak of fulfilling the gospel and doing God’s work. It takes risk, fearlessness, all led with faith and hope. Chapter 5 of Amos says “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.” By accepting all of our differences, as King preached, we are doing God’s work.
It is one of the hardest things to do; to step away from our perspective and step out of our comfort zone to change. But challenges don’t come without reward. Just like in school when we stay up all night studying to, hopefully, get an A on a test; or athletics when we go through grueling practices, just to see a victory when it’s time to compete. Embracing variety can be one of the hardest things, in life, to do, but it comes with the rewards of unity, kinship, and growth. The most inclusive communities are often the most admired. When people of different faiths, cultures, races, and beliefs coexist, that is when the beauty of human nature shows.
There was a point last year, at our homecoming game on Nov 4th, when we won the prep league title. A lot of you were there. But there was a moment that day, at the end of the game, when our defense caused a turnover in overtime, and everyone stormed the field. There were hugs and high fives, tears, and this overwhelming feeling of brotherhood. It was my first year at St. Christopher’s, and there was a lot about this school which was different than any I attended before. I was still getting used to the place. But at that moment, my background, status, color, they didn’t matter. We were ALL, just, Saints. And it was much bigger than all of us.
We are a part of something bigger than ourselves, and sometimes we have to get out of the way. Sometimes it’s not always easy or comfortable. We may have to go places and be with people that we’re convinced we have nothing in common with. But that is what will lead us to the “promised land” that Martin Luther King spoke so highly of. It is humbling to speak in honor of a man as honorable and respected as Dr. King, who worked to ensure that the color of my skin would not be a barrier to calling you my brothers and sisters. Thank you for accepting me as a part of your community, and thank you for listening to us speak today.