SPS Today: Alumni Join Students for MLK Day

Marcy Chong ’91 - One of 13 Alumni to Return

 Marcy Chong ’91, P’21 returned to the School to participate in a celebration of MLK Day.

Marcy Chong ’91, P’21 returned to the School to participate in a celebration of MLK Day.

In 1990, Marcy Chong ’91, P’21 was among student leaders who organized a School-wide march on the State House in Concord to advocate for the recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. At the time, New Hampshire was one of several states not acknowledging the third Monday in January by the Civil Rights leader’s name. Answering this call to action foreshadowed Chong’s future life work. Chong is currently a research director for the Service Employees International Union and is active in the Fight for $15, a campaign to raise the minimum wage.

On January 15, Chong returned to Concord to share in the School’s MLK Day celebration, dedicated to discussing and reflecting on social justice issues through student-driven workshops centered on privilege, race, identity, and faith. Chong was one of 13 alumni who returned to the School to engage in the community dialogue. Alumni met with students at a dinner and reception on January 14 and attended Chapel and workshops the following day.

“I want the students to get exposed to social justice, but I think the theme for the alumni visitors is that you want students to see possibilities of different alumni doing different types of things,” said Chong, who led a workshop entitled “Inheriting MLK’s Fight for Jobs and Freedom and the Poor People’s Campaign.” Chong’s workshop was among more than 30 small group sessions in which participants explored topics such as the myths and misconceptions of Islam; mixed race and multicultural identities, and pop culture and media.

The smaller group dialogues complemented a keynote address from Frank Leon Roberts, a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement and a professor at New York University. In his address, “Why We Can’t Wait: 10 Ways of Understanding the Black Lives Matter Movement,” Roberts reminded the School community that creating change isn’t a smooth process, and warned that he might say things that would make people uncomfortable, but would create a dialogue.

 Freedom rings in N.H.: Students organized a School-wide march on the State House in 1990 (Photo: January 18, 1990  Pelican ).

Freedom rings in N.H.: Students organized a School-wide march on the State House in 1990 (Photo: January 18, 1990 Pelican).

René Aubry ’88 and Marlon Key ’95 attended a workshop called “Mass Incarceration” in which participants watched 13th, a documentary that explores racial inequality, particularly the disproportionate number of African-Americans who occupy U.S. prisons. Aubry was impressed by the maturity of student questions in the Q&A that followed and with the students’ interaction with keynote speaker Roberts. 

“The students at St. Paul’s have difficulty ignoring facts and logic, which is probably the greatest compliment I can offer anyone,” said Aubry. “They are so eager to learn that all they require is exposure to different perspectives; they can do the analytical heavy lifting on their own. I left the School feeling more hopeful about this country’s future than I had felt in a while.”