A Day to Honor Martin Luther King Jr.

On Jan. 15, the Westminster community celebrated the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a full day of workshops, punctuated by a keynote address by Deacon Art Miller and a performance by the Shades of Yale a cappella group.
Miller, an author, radio host, revivalist, retired businessman and former director of the Office for Black Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of Hartford, grew up on the South Side of Chicago. He was a classmate of Emmett Till who in 1955 at age 14 was savagely beaten, murdered and dumped in a river by two white men in rural Mississippi after they accused him of offending a white woman. At the murder trial, the all-white jury found the two men innocent, which sparked the Civil Rights movement by bringing national attention to the racial violence and injustice prevalent in Mississippi.
“Till wasn’t killed because he whistled at a white woman, he was killed because he was in a place of hatred,” Miller said, explaining that hatred prevailed in the community, the state of Mississippi supported it and the U.S. federal government allowed it to happen.
Moved by the increase of racial violence, Miller, at 17, attended a protest in Chicago organized by King, where he was arrested. “I was afraid, but I had to do what was right,” Miller said of the experience.
To remain silent perpetuates pain. King’s message is about transformation –– the ability to change from what we are to what we can be, Miller said.
He gave students a call to action asking them to love themselves, seek to be the best version of themselves and to lift one another up.
After the keynote address, students participated in some of the nearly 40 workshops offered in the morning and afternoon that covered a wide range of topics including group discussions on individual and cultural identities, social and environmental justice, allyship, and Black scientific achievements and contributions to the field of visual and performing arts.
Special guest writer-actor-musician Malik Work, founding member of The Real Live Show, a groundbreaking jazz/hip-hop conglomerate, led a workshop on King as a storyteller, poet and performer.
Students also had the opportunity to take part in several off-campus events, including a tour of King’s summers in Simsbury, where he worked in tobacco fields during his college years to pay for his education. They traveled to Springfield, Mass., to Hope for Youth and Families to work with children in the organization's youth program. 
Dean of Admissions Miles Bailey hosted a special culinary event in his home. Students prepared a “traditional,” southern new year’s day meal of smoked chicken and pork, black eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread. After sharing the meal, they discussed the Netflix’s series “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America.”
Shades of Yale, one of Yale’s premiere a cappella groups, capped off the afternoon with a performance in Andrews Memorial Chapel celebrating the music of the African diaspora and African American tradition.

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