Residents of the College Park Westchester Park neighborhood witnessed a peaceful demonstration today by the entire student body from Friends Community School.
The students were carrying signs they had made calling for justice, equality, and nonviolence and singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Their song rang out on an afternoon when few others were braving the cold. A few passing cars honked in support of the young demonstrators.
In the spirit of the 1963 Children’s March, the march is an annual tradition at the Quaker school, timed to follow conversations about civil rights when the school honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Younger and older students at FCS, paired as Meeting Partners, have studied Dr. King, discussed his ideas and their applications to today, and made the signs they carried together.
Earlier today, the FCS 8th grade performed an original play written by 8th-grade language arts teacher Jennie Claiborne (watch the video here). Each student recited words from speeches made at the historic 1963 March on Washington—not just Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, but also words of Josephine Baker, the only woman who was invited to speak, Bayard Rustin, a Quaker who helped organize the event, and Congressman John Lewis, among others. Uncharacteristically dressed up, the students chose to wear blazers and ties, like modern-day SNCC volunteers.
Celebrating Dr. King’s legacy is a tradition in the 34-year history of FCS, rooted in the historic relationship Quakers held with Dr. King from the mid-1950s until his death in 1968. Quakers helped arrange the pilgrimage that Dr. King and Coretta Scott King took to India to learn more about the work of the non-violent leader Mahatma Gandhi. The American Friends Service Committee nominated Dr. King for the Nobel Peace Prize, which he received in 1964.
Located in College Park, MD, Friends Community School is a progressive Quaker K-8 day school, founded on the belief that every child is a valued member of our community. We offer a challenging curriculum imbued with strong values of equality, integrity, community, environmental stewardship, simplicity and peaceful conflict resolution, rooted in our Quaker heritage.
Friends Community School 5901 Westchester Park Drive College Park, Maryland 20740 301-441-2100