“Even if I knew that tomorrow would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
The words are those of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but they were repeated Jan. 14 by Middle School Arts Faculty and Middle School Diversity Coordinator Destiny Palmer. Via Zoom, she joined both Head of School Chris Fortunato P ‘26, ‘28 and Middle School Director Galen Hamann in welcoming Pastors Ronald and Kim Odom P ‘04 of the True Vine Church in Dorchester to an event discussing the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.
The Odoms, Boston-based activists who have dedicated their lives to restorative justice, echoed King’s words in their message; they noted that King knew that he might not see the changes he was advocating for but never let that stop him.
“You might think that you’re too young,” the Rev. Ronald Odom told Middle School students, “but you’re never too young to be taught to do the right thing and care about the well-being of others.”
The Rev. Kim Odom said she was five-years-old when King was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis; he was in the city that day in support of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike.
“At that age,” she said, “I understood the sadness but not the impact.”
Both pastors — who are also the proud parents of Associate Director of Admissions and Upper School Assistant Dean of Students Brandon Odom ‘04 — praised King’s unique ability to lead with “courage, integrity, and imagination” while successfully inviting others to join him in the cause. They urged students to imagine their own “Mount Rushmore” of positive, inspirational leaders. They also reminded the group that great leadership doesn’t have to take place on a grand scale but can involve “showing empathy to others and caring about other people’s feelings.”
As part of their restorative justice work, the Odoms founded the Spot for Life Foundation. It honors the life and legacy of their son, Steven Odom, who lost his life to gun violence in 2007 at age 13. The foundation advocates for and supports 6-to-13-year-olds and their families to ensure that young people are able to recognize, envision, and achieve their true potential. The husband-and-wife team say their activism is explained in another King quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Born Jan. 15, 1929, King would have turned 93 this past Saturday.