January 19, 2015 marked St. James School’s 4th Annual MLK Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Over 100 people gathered at the Church of St. James the Less for an inspirational prayer service, including St. James students, staff, and visitors from William Penn Charter School, Arch Street Presbyterian, and other church partners. Students and community members shared reflections and poems focusing on civil rights and all lit candles in Dr. King’s memory.
Afterwards, Dr. Tom Gordon, a psychologist and consultant on the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania’s Anti-Racism Commission, facilitated a discussion focusing on how we can fight discrimination. He showed a video titled A Class Divided, featuring Jane Elliott, an Iowa teacher who performed a famous social experiment with her all-white class in 1968. She separated them by eye color and “taught” them that one group was superior and the other inferior, so that they could experience the effects of discrimination firsthand.
St. James students were surprised to see how quickly children could be taught to discriminate, and shared ideas on how this could be unlearned as well as their dreams for the future. The video resonated with everyone in the audience, having a great impact even today.
Afterwards, students, teachers, staff and guests broke into small discussion groups and reflected on quotes from civil rights leaders. Each group talked about how they would strive to live out the quote in their own lives and write down ideas on a tracing of their foot as a symbol of steps we can take together.
The day ended with a lively lunch in the new Di Bruno Bros. Neighborhood Kitchen, followed by a chilly recess with wind and flurries. In all, it was an important and impactful day for everyone in attendance.