For years, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has honored the work of King and prolong his legacy of fighting for equal rights for people of color.
Baylor School, in order to do its part in keeping King’s legacy alive, involves the student body in a wide range of activities surrounding King. Ann Katherine Taylor, college counselor and MLK Day coordinator, works to plan the day each year, so that students can better understand the significance of MLK.
This year, grades 9-12 participated in a different activity. Both the ninth and tenth grade classes watched the heart-wrenching movie, "Selma," which details King and his followers’ journey on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, which culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. After the movie, they attended ‘teach-in” sessions where they discussed a variety of topics relating to black history such as “The Lesser-known Figures of the Civil Rights Movement,” and “History of Hip Hop Music.” Both classes were lucky enough to have a more personal discussion with the pioneers of Baylor's integration in the 1970s and ask questions about their experience as the school's first black students. “I liked being able to see both the white perspective and the black perspective. I learned a lot about the integration of the pioneers, which was definitely memorable,” said Sydney Berzon ‘22.
Juniors and seniors participated in a more service-based program by selecting a service project from a list of off-campus options in the Chattanooga area. Anna Race ‘20 was a senior leader in this year’s event and assisted Tawambi Settles in writing questions for the "Pioneers" panel discussion. “I thought about how hard it must have been to transition from two different worlds--home vs.school--while thinking about potential questions. I also never realized that some teachers would not have been accepting of the integration process-- I believed they would not have said outright racist things; I guess that was just me living in ignorance.” At times she felt pressured to ask positive questions because she feared that Baylor would not react too kindly if she asked questions highlighting their negative experiences. It was a unique, yet enlightening experience for her, and despite the obstacles, she said she enjoyed discovering the truth about the pioneers of Baylor School.
The Baylor students learned a great deal about Martin Luther King Jr. and his great efforts to fight for basic human rights, while also exploring the community and learning how to improve it. It is important for King’s legacy to be carried on through time, and with Taylor’s hard work, she made sure that his legacy was not forgotten, even if it is just for a day.