As the first school in Charlotte to create an Office of Diversity of Planning and one of the first and only schools in the country to create an Affirmation of Community, Country Day has long been committed to sharing our similarities and celebrating our differences. All three divisions enjoyed meaningful activities to pause and reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Mrs. Gina Booker and Mrs. Landra Booker Johnson '91
"The good news is that today, there are more of us who see the humanity in all people, regardless of what others look like, where they come from, how they speak, how they worship, who they love, or how they vote."
- Landra Booker Johnson '91
On Thursday, January 11, our Middle School welcomed current parent, Landra Booker Johnson ’91 as their assembly speaker for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Mrs. Johnson began her talk by challenging students to consider why we say, "Happy Martin Luther King Day," given the turbulent times in which he lived, and the way he died.
To give context, she shared the story of Gina, a young girl raised in Belle Sumter, AL. The gym was silent as Mrs. Johnson took us back to 1954. She described 7-year-old Gina’s parents, siblings, home, small town, and the routine as Gina traveled on the bus to her segregated school. One day after exiting that bus, Gina was deliberately struck by a passing car. The teen driver did not stop to offer help and was never prosecuted. Gina endured months in the hospital and had to learn how to walk again, but she did not let the accident hold her back. Gina grew up, graduated from college, became a teacher, and went on to become Gina Booker, Mrs. Johnson’s mother!
Mrs. Johnson believes there’s reason to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King because unlike those young men who hurt her mother, today there are “more of us who see the humanity of all people regardless of what others look like. Today the majority are those of us who believe in what our country was founded on; that we are all created equal.”
Click here to watch the video of Mrs. Johnson’s talk.
Martin Luther King Breakfast
For the fifth year, on January 19 the Middle School hosted a breakfast for students and parents to honor Martin Luther King. Special thanks to the following students who shared their insights and presented: Najya Gause, Jozohn Price, Lindsay Toppin, Zaria Reid, Zyon Wallace, Adriana Thompson, Nia Woodard, Sanai Rouse, Lauren Grose, Lulu Porter Barber, Sam Pruett, Casey Scott, Andrew Hale, Michael Woodard, Kendall Blount, Bryce Vanfield, Emma Taylor, Celeste Denny, Zoe Mantooth, Janae-Rose Fageyinbo, Landon Hawley, and Will Grainger.
Living as an authentic, inclusive community
Throughout the campus, students and faculty took a moment to study the life and legacy of Dr. King. The Lower School's annual "living museum" with the theme “Up-Standers of Moral Courage” focused on Dr. King as well as four global humanitarians: Russell Means, Majora Carter, Pearl S. Buck, and Gordon Hirabayashi.
Lower and Upper School students enjoyed inspiring presentations to expand their perspectives and learn from others. The Upper School Diversity Awareness Forum student leaders presented at the Lower School assembly and Jake Sussman, managing director at Fair Punishment Project, spoke to Upper School students and faculty.
Power of Words in Action
"Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others. All across the Lower School, children worked together with a shared focus, purpose, and joy to make a difference in the world, whether it was by drawing Valentine's Day cards for children at Levine's Children's Hospital or baking dog treats and braiding chew toys for their canine friends in shelters. They were thinking about those they were serving, trying to imagine what would make them happy, and doing their part to spread some happiness, kindness, and care out into the world. When we talked to some of our students about their work, here's what they said:
- "When we were rolling out the dog treats, all I could think about was a little dog, sitting in the shelter by himself, and how excited he would be to get that treat. I bet his tail is going to be wagging back and forth so hard!"
- "Sometimes when dogs get presents, you know how it looks like their teeth are smiling? That's what I hope my dog looks like when she gets her dog toy."
- "It's scary to be in a hospital, so I want my card to be like 'It's going to be ok!' and just really cheer them up and make them hopeful."
Lower School Head of School Adele Paynter, shared, "One of my favorite parts of Country Day's programming is its emphasis on going beyond great academics to really inspire the heart and the soul as well! Our children learn that as community members, as citizens, they have responsibilities and power to affect change and to leave their worlds better than they found it. From JK on, they connect with local organizations doing this work (Carriage House, Baby Bundles, Bright Blessing, Friendship Trays, Beds for Kids, Loaves and Fishes, Urban Ministry), and they learn the importance of serving the broader community."