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Three Day Celebration

Have you heard? “Williams College will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. with three days of events.” Now, the old school criticism of this would point out the PC nonsense of three days of celebration of MLK Day at a college that does not even mark President’s Day (Washington and Lincoln, remember them?) with anything beyond a day off from class.

But that is old school snark. Here, at the new EphBlog 4.1, we engage in new school snark and simply quote the press release:

Friday, January 16:

The Davis Center will lead an assembly at the Williamstown Elementary School commemorating the memory of King. The assembly will take place at 10 a.m. in the elementary school’s auditorium. Fifth- and 6th-grade students will share essays and poems, and 4th-grade students will present posters in response to the question, “Who is Martin Luther King Jr.?”

Sunday, January 18:

From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus, or WRAPS, will host a meal-packing session in Paresky Dining Hall’s Green Room. Wrapped food will be given to the Mohawk Forest Housing Project. RSVP to Lia@williams.edu by noon on Friday, Jan. 16.

Those are the first two days of the three day celebration. Don’t believe me? Check the link.

Hilarious! The first day has virtually nothing to do with Williams College. (I would assume that the elementary school would be doing someting for MLK even if Williams College were to vanish.) Will there be a single Williams College student or faculty member at the event? I doubt it.

The second day has nothing to do with MLK! Now, something like the Mohawk Forest Housing Project is exactly the sort of local charity that I think Williams — students, faculty and staff — ought to be more involved with. Kudos to all who volunteer! But to pretend that this event has anything to do with MLK, and that this justifies adding another day to the College’s multi-day celebration of MLK, is just embarrassing.

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#1 Comment By frank uible On January 16, 2015 @ 12:40 pm

Nonetheless the College is sufficiently reverent as to take off the putative anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. Ain’t we holy!

#2 Comment By esoskin On January 19, 2015 @ 10:38 am

Following the link to the college press release, I expected to see the kind of over-marketing suggested by the post title. Didn’t see it. Arguably, the College should have tried to get the mileage out of the “three days of events” by spinning it as a “Three Day Celebration”, but they didn’t.

As to the substance of the events, it seems like MLK Day is a good occasion to partner with the elementary school for an event. It’s a holiday that I expect Williams students to be enthusiastic about, but that lacks the obvious hook for elementary school students, other than the day off. So if students from the College can impart some of that excitement, it seems like a good idea. And per iBerkshires, it looks like there were plenty of Ephs there:

The children were treated to performances by three Williams College song and dance groups: the a capella group The Accidentals, the African dance troupe Kusika and the step team Sankofa.

Williams College sophomore Mia L. Knowles also read her reflection on the life of Dr. King.

And the crossover even goes the other way: elementary school to College:

As part of the curriculum at WES, fourth- through sixth-graders created original works of their own to talk about King’s legacy. The fourth-graders made posters. The fifth-graders wrote poems. And the sixth-graders wrote essays…

[S]ix children read their poems and essays: fifth-graders Charlie McWeeny, Clary McWeeny and Jayden Johnson and sixth-graders Lucy Shepard, Helen Greenfield and Maya Choste.

The poem and essay of Johnson and Choste, respectively, were chosen by Williams students to be read at the college’s Martin Luther King Day celebration on Monday.

The WRAPS event should have been held on Monday, I agree. But it makes far more sense, in my opinion, to link a service project to Dr. King’s birthday than it does to link one to holidays about American history, contra recent efforts to establish the anniversary of 9/11, the Fourth of July, and even, yes, Presidents’ Day (can we please go back to Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday”) as “days of service”).

#3 Comment By Get Yo Facts Straight On January 20, 2015 @ 12:06 pm

If it weren’t for Williams’ own Marcela Peacock, Williamstown Elementary School wouldn’t even have MLK Day programming. She noticed a lack of any attention to the holiday (at a 99% white school) and decided to forge a relationship between the schools. Kudos to her for her work!

#4 Comment By esoskin On January 20, 2015 @ 4:05 pm

If it weren’t for Williams’ own Marcela Peacock, Williamstown Elementary School wouldn’t even have MLK Day programming.

Back in the 90s, right? I think the absence of attention to the holiday was more common then.