Let this be a catalyst…


Jaira Stanley

Breaking the chains Dancer Destiny Montgomery performs a contemporary dance about freedom. Montgomery is a dancer on the Varsity dance team.

Students of the multicultural club recently celebrated the third anniversary of Pursuing the Dream, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions to people of color.
Principal Jerry Lee Anderson shared a riveting anecdote about her experience at Vanderbilt University in the 80’s and the racism she encountered when walking on a popular trail. She saw African-American dolls hanging from a tree and white fraternities in blackface. She and her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, organized a protest so strong that the school prohibited the prejudice traditions of the white fraternities.
Drawing from this, Anderson encouraged her students to “be the change they want to see in the world.”
The event included performances from various activities such as Speech, Band, Dance and Inspirational Voices, along with personal narratives of racism from teachers and administrators.
“The amount of energy and inspiration that comes out of a program like this, motivates everyone to go out and help us all move forward,” Superintendent Von Mansfield said.
Varsity soccer coach Emmanuel Allie shared a heartbreaking story about the violence he went through in the war-infested streets of Sierra Leone. Allie reminisced about how being in the military taught him discipline and shaped him into the man he is today.
With the friends he made along the journey to America, he told students to be kind to others and to never let the past hinder you from succeeding in the future.
Mansfield spoke with excitement about how in the black community, there is a fixation on negative aspects of history.
“Sometimes we get stuck in the civil rights; we see Dr. King and the many difficult things that were going on,” Mansfield said. “We need to take that as a catalyst. I think we need to talk about the wonderful things that have happened since that.”
As students, staff, and parents walked out of the auditorium, they felt a sense of motivation from the performances and stories told.
Guest speaker and former staff member Andre Hughes spoke on his experience of coming back and seeing student passion for the arts.
“I think the singing, the dance, the personal stores were amazing, quite frankly, I wanted to hear more, I certainly didn’t want to hear myself,” Hughes said.
In Hughes’ speech, he told an inspiring anecdote about how his business partners didn’t trust his ideas. He told students to remain resilient despite criticism from others.
“I had high expectations when I came in. I was wanting to be inspired, and I was overwhelmed by inspiration,” Hughes said.
After the event, science teacher Jeanettra Watkins asked students to inform themselves on African- American women in science. Particularly a woman close to home, Henrietta Lacks.
She lost her life to cancer but her cells were used as research .
Watkins asked students to wear red on Feb. 12 as a tribute to all Lacks has done.