Every year students come to the Martin Luther King Jr. assembly to watch students perform poetry and songs to celebrate Martin Luther King’s life.
Except for this year and last year
This year’s MLK assembly was cut without the possibility of being rescheduled.
Drama teacher and head of the MLK assembly Todd Schaefer said he cancelled the assembly because the assembly “lost its way” of honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and was instead a “battleground” for students and that an unknowing audience would be “ambushed” by the very controversial poems and art forms being presented.
The material presented was “aggressive” poetry about “white privilege, institutionalized racism and black culture/youth in America,” Schaefer said.
Schaefer added Martin Luther King would be rolling in his grave if he had seen the assembly being connected to him and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
Schaefer said King was a peacemaker, and he is correct in saying so, but King was also a man who wanted race and racism to be in the forefront of society’s awareness and not be hidden or sanitized.
Now some performers of slam poetry and music who were supposed to perform at the MLK assembly got to perform during the All-Write festival on Feb. 22-27.
It was nice that some of the people who worked hard to make work for the assembly were able to perform, but the All Write-festival has a controlled audience, and not all students or staff who wanted to see them perform could.
To let more students watch these performances, there should be an after-school performance set up that is open for anyone to attend. This would let students perform together and express their ideas in from of an open audience because the audience would know exactly the type material that would be performed, so then the audience would not become “ambushed” by controversial material.
This event would have to be scheduled far in advance because of the district’s busy schedule, but there is still a lot of time until the end of the year for a time and venue to be found.
Also, if a time cannot be found this year, then a new event separate from the MLK assembly could be arranged so students can express opinions that they believe are very important to themselves and to the public in front of an accepting audience.
I hope that the MLK assembly can be changed to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, but I also hope a new event can be made so students can share their beliefs about very strong and important topics that people still need to listen to and discuss.