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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

“At the Table with Dr. King” Mixes Music and History

The+performance+of+%E2%80%9CAt+the+Table+with+Dr.+King%E2%80%9D+at+WIS+on+Jan+18.+It+features+speakers+and+a+full+band.+%28Courtesy+of+Martina+Tognato+Gu%C3%A1queta%29%0A
The performance of “At the Table with Dr. King” at WIS on Jan 18. It features speakers and a full band. (Courtesy of Martina Tognato Guáqueta)

Just over four miles from where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, its recording was played in front of over 250 high school students, 61 years later, soundtracked by songs of blues and jazz. 

On Jan. 18, WIS hosted a special presentation by the performance group At the Table with Dr. King to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day. The group aims to display the values and message of Martin Luther King Jr. through not only historical footage but also music and poetry. 

It was this unique approach that made the presentation attractive to both WIS students and faculty. Junior and co-president of Black Student Union Lucas Aemro Selassie believes that by having a multimedia style, the performance was able to better showcase the contribution of King and African Americans in the United States. 

“They integrated history and the culture of African American music to make sure they were fluid with the topic of Martin Luther King,” Selassie said. “[The performers] did a good job of highlighting what makes the African American community special.” 

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The integration of multiple styles to present the legacy and importance of King in a captivating way was significant. Selassie believes that it was important for the students to be engaged in the telling of King’s story, as it was a rare opportunity. 

“It’s really important to educate people about why we have MLK Day off,” Selassie said. “We don’t learn much about MLK in school… so it could sometimes get lost in translation.”

Given King and the Civil Rights Movement is not taught in depth in the WIS history curriculum until the IB History course. Due to this, Director of International-Mindedness, Diversity and Inclusion (IDI), Aldaine Wynter, believes that At the Table with Dr. King has incredible value, especially with its intrinsic connection to the Washington D.C. community. 

“Martin Luther King gave his iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial, less than 30 minutes from where we are today,” Wynter said. “The value is understanding our context and how close we are to history. It serves as a reminder about the special relationship that we have as a community in the national capital.” 

Throughout the performance, references were continually made to the “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech, one about continually fighting for a better future where diversity is a priority, has maintained its relevance to this day. “[MLK’s message] is so important, he really paved the way for all the movements that are happening now,” Selassie said. 

This through line from the history of civil rights up to the current day is crucial for gaining a larger understanding of the position of African Americans in today’s society. This sentiment is echoed by Selassie, who believes that assemblies like At the Table with Dr. King and the continued recognition throughout Black History Month will help to foster a larger awareness. “[Black History Month] is definitely necessary, we have to recognize how much of a marginalized community we are as African Americans,” Selassie said. “It’s also important to recognize how far [African Americans] have come… because of all the history that preceded this current generation.” 

Specifically at an international school, where diversity is omnipresent, Wynter hopes that showcasing the message that King stood for will resonate with the student body. “I hope that it motivates and inspires students to further participate in all things International-Mindedness, Diversity and Inclusion,” Wynter said. 

Selassie believes that recognizing Black History Month at WIS will help students continue to acknowledge King’s legacy. “Highlighting [Black History Month] will help us better understand what it means to be a global citizen at WIS,” he said. 

Throughout the At the Table with Dr. King performance, the importance of King’s legacy was continually showcased. By incorporating different forms of African American expressionism, the performers  were able to make the show memorable. Additionally, they demonstrated that the determination King used to fight for what he believed in can still be practiced today. 

More importantly, however, it showed how King’s message is just as important and relevant now. “The message of [At the Table with Dr. King] is not just to remember Martin Luther King Jr. on January the 15, but to better understand Martin Luther King Jr., his words and spirit, as it pertains to all that he stood for,” Wynter said. 

By Kas Salehi

 

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About the Contributor
Kas Salehi, Sports Editor
Hi, I’m Kas. I’m a junior and this is my second year as the Sports Editor at Dateline. I have been writing for three years and I enjoy writing about personal stories and profiles within sports. Outside of Dateline I enjoy playing tennis and the guitar. 

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