StC Hosts Joint Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Service

Students, faculty and staff celebrate the life and legacy of the civil rights leader.
Last week, the Saints community gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a joint celebration with St. Catherine’s School.

Gathering in Ryan Recital Hall inside St. Christopher’s Arts Center, the student-led service included music, dance, scripture readings and personal stories from students at both schools.

EJ Seward `24, a member of StC’s Black Student Union, described growing up in a housing project surrounded by gangs and gun violence. “I was meant to be a statistic, dead or in jail,” Seward told the audience. “I was tired,” he said. 

However, Seward was determined to chart his own course. At Anna Julia Cooper School, new creative worlds opened up for him as he learned how to play the violin, and he fell in love with the intricate strategies of chess. Later, at StC, Seward initially worried about how he would fit in, but he described finding a special place with his peers on the Saints football team. “That brotherhood meant the world to me,” he said in his talk. “They showed me the ropes and how to face my problems. They constantly reassured me that I wasn’t alone.” 

Sharing such a personal story was difficult for Seward, he said. Still, it was an important moment for him, especially in recognition of Rev. King’s legacy. “I wanted to show everyone that I am worth more than my situation or where I grew up,” said Seward. “I don’t have to be tied down to what people think I should be.” 

St. Catherine’s student Alexandra Walker `23 shared her story as well. As a young girl, Walker's best friend, Logan, was white. While Walker regarded her friend as a sister, a blunt comment about the differences between the color of their skin made her realize that, no matter how much she loved her friend, other people saw barriers that she hadn’t considered.

“In that moment, my fourth grade self was made aware that, regardless of how long I’d known my friends, or how much I loved them, to them there would always be a divide,” she told the audience. “I knew I was no longer just Alexandra,” she said. “I was Alexandra with brown eyes, brown hair and Black. All I could do was cry.”

As Walker grew older, she only became more aware of the differences between her and her and Logan. In her talk, she described insensitive or ignorant comments which highlighted their differences and how the color of Walker’s skin determined how some people often treated her. Growing up, she said, “something that should be embraced became something I feared,” she said.

Walker’s relationship with her best friend has endured, but she recognizes that many will never look at them the same way. “And so we march. She marches for equality and equity because there’s so much she cannot see. I march for peace and my identity,” she told the audience. 

For Walker, having discussions about race is essential. “It’s important for our communities to have these types of conversations because of our history, and these are the first steps to making change,” she said. “Rev. King stood for not avoiding difficult conversations, and remembering him and his spirit makes this important for me.”