Community Events Honor the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Rochester Community Schools (RCS) is hosting two events to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The events are free and open to the public; however registration is required.

Community members, families, staff and high school students are invited to attend a presentation with Delma Jackson on January 21 from 9 – 11:30 a.m., and dinner and dialogue with Rochelle Riley, columnist for the Detroit Free Press and author of The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery, on January 23 from 6 – 8 p.m. Both events are scheduled to take place in the Harrison room at the RCS administration building, 501 W. University Drive.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister and peaceful Civil Rights leader who championed for racial equality and the freedoms of all citizens. Throughout all of his labors, Dr. King maintained the belief that all people are created equal. We strive to keep his message alive. Through productive dialogue, we can develop a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the implications of race, culture and diversity,” said Robin Carter, director of instructional equity and 504 coordinator.

During the January 21 presentation, Jackson will use storytelling to take the audience on a journey to learn about the cumulative impacts of race and Federal Housing Administration policies. He will also draw focus on how the wealth and education gap was created and continues to persist today. Jackson compares his grandfather’s story to Bill O’Reilly’s to engage the audience and provide a story that forces one to think deeper about systemic racism.

To enhance the presentation, Michigan Roundtable will be hosting a pop-up exhibit to facilitate discussion of historical landmark cases from the 1900s, through the Great Migration, to 1968. This exhibit will be open to the public for viewing January 21-25 in the Harrison Room.

During the January 23 dinner and dialogue event, Riley will be facilitating a panel discussion designed to help educators and families understand the historical and present impact that social justice issues have on students, educators, schools and communities. The panel will include Jay Marks, Ph.D., Oakland Schools diversity consultant; Joyce Piert, Ph.D., author of Alchemy of the Soul; Naomi Khalil, director of instructional equity at Farmington Public Schools; and Kimberly Thomas, Equal Opportunity Schools project director. The panelists will share their perspectives regarding systemic inequities in the public education system and begin a deep dive into how society can begin to dismantle them.

“The Rochester Community School District’s strategic plan has a focus on investigating, developing, and implementing programs that ensure students and staff have a high degree of cultural awareness, which includes diversity and inclusion,” said Superintendent Robert Shaner, Ph.D. “We are proud to offer these educational opportunities so we can continue to learn and grow as a community.

“We are committed to providing a warm, caring and supportive environment, where all members feel safe, valued and respected. We believe that a variety of customs, lifestyles, and backgrounds contribute to an enriched learning environment. By educating our school community through programs such as these, we can continue to build awareness and understanding to promote human dignity.”

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