Honoring Dr. King by Katherine Lyon, AmeriCorps member, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, City Year Seattle/King County held our annual day of service at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. In addition to our 89 AmeriCorps members and 21 staff members, 177 volunteers honored Dr. King’s legacy by serving on his birthday. We even had some special coverage and guests during the day of service. Program Manager and event leader, Aaron Carr, was featured in this MTV clip and Mayor Ed Murray came to serve with us! Mayor Murray addressed the standing-room only auditorium to kick off the service day. He told the crowd that in his four years as Mayor of Seattle, he has always prioritized starting his MLK Day off with a service project to connect with people who want to take action.
Volunteers spread mulch in front of the school and painted three different murals - two in stairwells and one in the gym - that have transformed the look and feel of our school. The murals include cultural images familiar to the students and flags from all over the world. The murals were inspired by student input and designed by City Year staff and muralist, Noah Neighbor. Students beamed as they returned to school on Tuesday; they loved looking at the murals and pointing out parts that resonated with them.
During service, our volunteers had the chance to get to know each other and reflect on what service means to them. One of our volunteers, Claire, who is an AmeriCorps member with NeighborCare, said she served because it gave her an opportunity to serve and connect with other AmeriCorps members that she wouldn’t usually have the chance to meet.
Photos by Sonam Dorji, AmeriCorps Team Leader
In addition to service projects, volunteers had the opportunity to reflect on the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day through several speeches and social justice workshops led by City Year AmeriCorps members. Topics included “Demystifying MLK”, “Post Mortem Media Violence”, the important work of other civil rights leaders, “Prioritizing and Affirming Intersecting Identities in the Classroom”, and a documentary about realities of immigration. Seattle School Board President, Sue Peters, addressed the volunteers to conclude the day of service. She recalled a recent visit to Dr. King’s hometown of Atlanta and connected our collective service as “acts of heroism”. It was the perfect note to end a great service day.
Volunteers enjoyed breakfast and lunch donated by Starbucks, Einstein Bagels, Q Bakery, Chipotle, and the Sunset Café. City Year would also like to thank Seattle Public Schools and the leadership and staff at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School for their partnership. Thank you to our donors, our speakers, and our volunteers for making MLK Day so successful!