Students at both the Upper and Middle schools took part in a robust examination of diversity in its many forms on Diversity Day this Wednesday, January 31.
For Upper School students the day kicked off with a keynote speech by Vishavjit Singh, an editorial cartoonist and actor, who spoke on issues of identity, what it means to be American, and using art as a tool for social change. "From the day you're born you have labels placed on you, and for the rest of your life you don't often get to choose these labels," said Singh. "But these labels don't define who you are."
After the keynote, Upper School students attended two workshops of their choosing. There were 32 different workshops that took place throughout the day--covering a breadth of issues related to diversity such as Colin Kaepernick's protest of police brutality, minorities in the military, #Metoo, and gender identity--among many others. At the end of the day, students heard closing remarks from Thayer alum Tanisha Sullivan '92 who serves as the President of the Boston branch of the NAACP.
Sullivan told students about her journey from Brockton, to Thayer, to the University of Virgina, and a career in law. She challenged students to take the next step after Diversity Day and create opportunities to explore these issues further. "As you think about your experience today, the question for you is 'and so what?'" she said. "What are you going to do with the learnings you received? Don't let today be the end."
Across the street at the Middle School, students participated in a "Celebration of Life" honoring Jackie Robinson and his contributions to sports and society. The event was organized by the Boston Red Sox and included representation from the Jackie Robinson Foundation as well as "Take the Lead," an organization that works to combat racism in Boston sports. Students heard from Red Sox outfielder, Jackie Bradley, Jr.; former player and coach Tommy Harper; Elaine Steward, Club Counsel for the team and the first African-American woman hired as an executive in Major League Baseball; Ivo Philbert from the Jackie Robinson Foundation; Dick Flavin, poet laureate for the Red Sox; and George Mitrovich, Chariman of the Greater Fenway Park Writer Series. Students from the Martin Luther King Jr. School in Boston visited Thayer to attend this event with the Middle School students.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. spoke about the impact Robinson had on him and society. "He set the foundation not only for African Americans to play this great sport, but for people of all colors," he said. "Not many people could endure what he had to go through. All I can say is 'thank you' because he has allowed me the opportunity to play."
After the presentation and a lively Q&A students took photos with Wally and the team's World Series trophies.
To read more about the visit by the Red Sox and Jackie Bradley Jr., click here to read an article on NBC Sports.