top of page

3rd Annual MLK Symposium

Building Bridges: Shoulder to Shoulder, Lifting All Our Voices

January 21, 2019 - Episcopal High School - Alexandria, VA


Sponsored by the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Episcopal High School's 3rd Annual 2019 MLK Jr. Day Symposium is a campus-wide initiative to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrate his legacy and ideals. This year's theme: "Building Bridges: Shoulder to Shoulder, Lifting All Our Voices" aims to bring together a variety of voices and perspectives to foster greater awareness of the role Dr. King has played in the lives of all Americans and to facilitate conversations and workshops that promote equity and inclusion within our community and the larger global community of which are a small part.

 Keynote Speakers

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is the daughter of Dominican immigrants. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion. The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018) is her debut novel.


“Our bodies have been bridges,” proclaimed the Dominican-American poet Elizabeth Acevedo. “We are the sons and daughters, el destino de mi gente, black, brown, beautiful, viviremos para siempre, Afro-Latino hasta la muerte.”


Her collection of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths, had just been published. Surrounded by books and an audience of about 30 people, she performed her spoken word, seamlessly switching between English and Spanish.

Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco was born in Madrid and immigrated to the United States as an infant with his Cuban-exile family. He was raised in Miami and earned a BS in civil engineering and MFA in creative writing from Florida International University. Blanco has been a practicing engineer, writer, and poet since 1991.


His collections of poetry include City of a Hundred Fires (1998), which won the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize; Directions to the Beach of the Dead (2005), winner of the PEN/American Beyond Margins Award; Looking for the Gulf Motel (2012), winner of the Thom Gunn Award, the Maine Literary Award, and the Paterson Prize; One Today (2013); Boston Strong (2013); and How to Love a Country (forthcoming 2019).

Keynote Speakers
Concurrent Sessions



Poetry Workshop:

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is the New York Times best selling author of the award-winning novel, THE POET X. She is the winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and of the Boston-Globe Hornbook Award Prize for Best Children’s Fiction of 2018. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and she resides in Washington, DC with her husband.

Two separate 80 minute workshops exploring race and identity and truth.


Elizabeth Acevedo



Becoming Beloved Community

Strengthening Our Bonds

Martin Luther King applied the term “Beloved Community” to describe his global vision of a community rooted in love, justice, and dignity. This workshop focuses on telling the truth, proclaiming the dream, practicing the way of love, and repairing the breach in order to shape the school’s role in racial healing, reconciliation, and justice beyond the gates.


Rev. Betsy Gonzalez

Head Chaplain

Episcopal High School


Gender and Jim Crow: Women in the Civil Rights Movement

This workshop challenges "the great man" idea of Civil Rights by focusing on the lives and work of Rosa Parks, Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer. Students will get introduced to these pioneering African-American women by watching clips from The Eyes on the Prize. Small groups will then work to dig deeper and really "get to know" one of these women by researching and asking who is "remembered" and why. Students then convene to share about these women, their perspective on leadership and the impact they had on the Civil Rights Movement.


Michael Reynolds

History Faculty

Episcopal High School

Synnika Lofton and Gregory Lee.jpg

Nu World Griot

"Nu World Griot" is an interactive poetry experience presented by poet Synnika Lofton and percussionist Gregory Lee. Synnika Lofton uses poetry to explore freedom, justice, equality, and education, while Gregory Lee plays light music on various drums and instruments. Students and participants are then invited to read their own original poems or the poems of other poets. Students and participants are also encouraged to ask questions about the creative process.This program is interactive, entertaining, educational, and a unique experience.


Synnika Lofton

English Faculty

Chesapeake Bay Academy


Step Into the Circle

Brave Spaces

Reframing Ground Rules in Social Justice Education: this workshop helps students and faculty explore the inherent challenges in dialogue about power, privilege, and oppression in socioculturally diverse groups, and suggests a clear framework for reframing the ground rules around dialogue surrounding power, privilege, and oppression to create brave spaces instead of safe spaces. Students and faculty gain insights into new ways to frame dialogues around diversity and social justice.


Lucy Goldstein

Dean of Residential Life

Episcopal High School


Breaking it Down: Towards E Pluribus Unum

Participants create a safe space to learn about race amity. Race amity is not simply cross-racial friendship, but a conscious commitment to participating in meaningful cross-cultural relationships that allow us to express our many layered identities and to accept and support one another in our efforts to divest ourselves and our communities of racism. These relationships are not static but evolve, and are the means by which we can begin to 'break down' the many obstacles that keep the discourse on race in a cycle of blame, grievance and rejection. These relationships help push ourselves to develop insight, understanding, and progress towards our country’s founding vision that we are, out of many, one.


Louis Smith

English Faculty

Episcopal High School


Foot Soldier of Birmingham

Birmingham, 1963. The image of a police dog viciously attacking a young black protester shocks the nation. The picture, taken in the midst of one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous marches, might be the most iconic photograph of the civil rights movement. But few have ever bothered to ask the people in the famous photograph what they think happened that day. It’s more complicated than it looks.

This workshop and podcast walk explores the history of this compelling statue and the moment in history it memorializes. (Need headphones and way to play podcast. Dress warm.)


Ben Courchesne

Associate Dean of Students

Episcopal High School


VDN US Workshop #2

What is gentrification?

How does it affect you?

How does it affect minorities? 


Explore the topic of gentrification with your fellow Episcopal peers! In this workshop, we will examine the pros and cons to gentrification through interactive discussions. We will also, address the racial, socio-economic, and political intents of gentrification on a local and national scale. We invite all students to challenge their own thoughts as well as their peers in an open space.


Episcopal SDLC Cohort

Students Only


VDN US Workshop #5

Your Identity Molecule: Exploring How Our Core Identifiers Shift and Mask.  Perceived, shared identities can be highly diverse within themselves! Participants will articulate all the different aspects of their identities, including the subtle shifts of how they feel they can and cannot present elements of themselves at school, at home, at religious events and with friends. Discussion of how privilege impacts identities and how visible and invisible identities function in a world insistent on seeing diversity.



St. Catherine's SDLC Cohort

Students Only


VDN US Workshop #8

Love in the Institution

In this workshop, students who attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, will lead a workshop on love in the institution, leading with the question, “Do you feel loved by your school?” They will conduct two interactive and engaging activities which will incite conversation and dialogue on how the eight core identifiers affect student life in school and in other settings.



Georgetown Day School SDLC Cohort

Students Only


Poetry Workshop:

Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco is the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history—the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work.

Work on crafting poetry and engage in the study of poetry with Richard Blanco as he guides two separate 80 minute workshops for students. 


Richard Blanco



Approaching Race Through Identity of Self and Others

A close look at race through the development of our own identity and experiences, looking at who we are and where we come from. What does it mean to be a certain race, ethnicity, or nationality? We will look how this affects individual and group identities, and how we use it to relate to others and how we show up in relation to those different than ourselves.


Evan Solis

Program Assistant

Office of Community & Equity


Implicit Bias and the Fringe Benefits of Whiteness

(Faculty ONLY)

Implicit bias and the fringe benefits of whiteness infect most classrooms and campuses. This two-part workshop (morning and afternoon sessions required) will examine how these aspects can lead to the unequal treatment, often unintentional, of campus community members.  In the second workshop, attendees will explore ways to drive change in counteracting unequal treatment and creating an atmosphere in which both students and faculty act in ways that reflect their deep appreciation for our common humanity.

Mike Wenger 2.jpg

Michael Wenger

George Washington University


Morgan State Lacrosse

This film tells the story of the nation's first and only college lacrosse team at a historically black institution. When a young white administrator reluctantly accepted the position of head lacrosse coach at Morgan State University a six-year journey began. Underscored by the Native American roots of the game, THE MORGAN LACROSSE STORY is a sports story like no other. This film recounts the tragedy and the triumphs of a truly inspirational team. Film is followed with discussion and examination of the role sports can play in breaking barriers and fostering strong communities.



Scott Conklin

Head Coach Boys Lacrosse

Episcopal High School


Live Poets: The Voices of a Diverse People

Watch and discuss poetry readings that represent important voices on the topics of diversity, civil rights, cultural identity, and vision. Explore the intersection of poetry and justice. Most videos, though not all, feature slam poetry or performance poetry, and these voices come from both "classic" and cutting edge figures (from MLK Jr. to Saul Williams to prominent emerging voices in slam poetry today). Each clip would be followed by a discussion that explores the impact of these voices on the audience.


S. Mitch Pinkowski

English Faculty

Episcopal High School


Civil Rights & Episcopal High School's History

Learn about the research conducted by history faculty and students regarding the different voices of those who experienced integration in the past fifty years. The oral interviews and archives research offer a nuanced and complex picture of the process of integration and how the school was shaped by different generations of students and faculty. Dive into the school archives regarding the southern culture of Episcopal during the years of the Civil Rights Movement.​ Students examined school culture portrayed in The Chronicle and Whispers that revealed consistent discussions on campus regarding civil rights bolstered by visits from activists like Virginius Dabney '17, and Hodding Carter, Armistead Boothe '24.


Caroline English

History Faculty

Episcopal High School


Exploring Identity: Reflections of Senegal

and the Self

Travel with Bodhi Amos, French Teacher at Episcopal High School, on a reflection of his sabbatical journey through Senegal. Beginning in Dakar, Amos sought to understand the diversity of cultures present in Senegal while also reflecting on his own personal experience and identity exploration. The session explores the way identity shapes our own narratives and decisions to travel, while also exploring our deep desire to understand others in relation to the self to broaden our global perspectives. 


Bodhi Amos

French Faculty

Episcopal High School


VDN US Workshop #3

How Minorities Behave

Do minorities at EHS have to act differently on campus? Do they have something to prove, or do they have to work harder to fight against stereotypes?

This workshop looks at “respectability” through discussion and popular media such as “American Born Chinese" and “The Hate U Give." The goal is to bring greater understanding of the experiences of others to everyone. This presentation is open to anyone, regardless of identity.


Episcopal SDLC Cohort

Students Only


VDN US Workshop #6

Gender 101: What is gender? Why does it matter how we talk about it and how DO we equip ourselves to talk about it? Learn from presenters living within and without gender conformity about the vocabulary of gender diversity and the thinking shift it takes to approach gender as a social construct. The workshop aims to free student minds and creates a space to talk about some real-life scenarios to help all students better navigate the diverse and beautiful world of the gender spectrum.



St. Catherine's SDLC Cohort

Students Only


VDN US Workshop #9

Safety in the Institution

Do you feel safe in your school? With rising rates of hate crimes and incidents of bias in schools across the nation, GDS students hope to bring this question to the conference. Students who attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, will lead engaging and interactive activities related to the eight core identifiers and how they might affect one’s safety at school.



Georgetown Day School SDLC Cohort

Students Only

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 10.43.39

Interfaith Workshop

Shoulder to Shoulder

An interfaith dialogue with three prominent voices from three major Abrahamic religions. Students and faculty are welcome to participate.

Imam Ali Siddiqui

Interfaith Studies & Understanding

Muslim Institute of Washington, DC

Timothy Seamans

Assistant Chaplain, Episcopal

Rabbinat Dasi Fruchter

Assistant Spiritual Leader, Beth Sholom Congregation & Talmud Torah


Interfaith Dialogue

Hosted by:

Shoulder to Shoulder

Understanding Networks of Power (Faculty Only)

Faculty will work to understand the networks of privilege in their own lives and how it impacts the work they do within their own schools. The session includes pre- and post-reflection exercises, as well as activities designed to illustrate bias within personal networks. Faculty who are interested in anti-bias training are strongly encouraged to attend. 


Molly Pugh

Program Coordinator

Office of Community & Equity


Race in Stand Up Comedy

A discussion, supplemented by clips from notable standup comedians, investigating the treatment of race in comedy. Subjects will include the use of racial language and stereotypes as well as the question of the general appropriateness of race-based material in comedy. Participants are encouraged to submit relevant video before the session.

Due to the mature content of the material, this workshop is available only to 11th and 12th grade students who have not been part of the workshop in previous years.


Chris Davies

History Faculty

Episcopal High School


Exploring Diversity at

the Intersection of Dance, Biology and Language

Participate in a workshop that studies themes across two academic subjects and learn how African music, song and dance have influenced Latin American culture. Kevin LaMarr Jones, founder, artistic director and choreographer for Claves Unidos ("United Rhythms”), a Richmond-based dance company, demonstrates the interconnection between the two subjects.Through his work with Dogtown Dance Theatre and others, Mr. Jones routinely shares the influences of Africa on Latin America.


Kevin LaMarr Jones

Sandra Marr & Ling Fung-Wu

Collegiate School - Richmond


Unpacking American Values

(International Students Only)

International students explore American values and learn about the history of American culture, behaviors, and mindsets. Students will have the opportunity to openly discuss personal experiences with American culture and work toward supporting each other in understanding their own identities and cultures in relation to American identities and cultures. The workshop is designed for students who identify as international students in American schools (both day and boarding programs).



Jeremy Goldstein

Dir. of Experiential Learning

Episcopal High School


The Rise of Anti-Semitism

In 2017, hate crimes against Jewish people increased 57% from 2016 levels, the largest single-year increase on historical record according to the Anti-Defamation League. This workshop aims to understand the historical influences and modern influences on the rise of anti-Semitism in America (and across the world). The workshop focuses on open and honest dialogue about contemporary issues with the intent to understand the impact anti-Semitism has had on this community and others. Attendees should be prepared to read, listen, and watch material related to the alarming rise of hate groups in America. Attendees should also be prepared to discover ways to create empathetic partnerships with those of different faith backgrounds. 



Jeremy Goldstein

Dir. of Experiential Learning

Episcopal High School


VDN US Workshop #1

MLK Jr and Religious Progressivism: 

Does the Bible support civil rights? Does it condone the separation of nations? What about feminism, or immigration, or LGBTQ+ rights? Does the Qur’an? Does the Torah?

This interactive workshop will examine how religion can be used to help progress, like MLK and civil rights, or to hinder it. Using skills we learned from the SDLC, Episcopal students will also tie in the diversity of our student faith population and relate the religious conflict to social issues of today. Students of all grades and identities--especially religious identities--are encouraged to attend! 


Episcopal SDLC Cohort

Students Only


VDN US Workshop #4

Spectrum Activity: Encouraging Difference in Opinions. Students will explore issues and then stand in a location on a spectrum based on their views on that issue. Between each round, students will be asked to explain their position. The presenters will establish that this activity is meant to be a nurturing and safe space. A closing discussion will focus on how students can continue conversations like these at their schools with an emphasis on keeping discourse educational and respectful.



Collegiate SDLC Cohort

Students Only


VDN US Workshop #7

Concentric Circles: Intersections of Identity.  Students work to understand how identities intersect during this interactive workshop that aims for collaboration and understanding of others. The goal is for participants to be active and engaged listeners, to think about their story and their peers’ stories, and to think about the intersections of identity in their own lives, the lives of their peers, and in society as a whole.



Georgetown Day School SDLC Cohort

Students Only

Screen Shot 2019-01-11 at 5.01.58 PM.png

VDN US Workshop #10

Being Heard: A Fishbowl Activity

Do students at your school truly heard by the faculty and Administration? Are there things you wish you could say about your experience at your school without being questioned or judged?

The 2018 SDLC Cohort participated in a Fishbowl activity with the Upper School Faculty and spoke openly about our experiences at SDLC and in our school, and then shared with them some ways they can help make our school a safer, more inclusive place for all students. This session will demonstrate the fishbowl activity and explain our process of communicating with faculty in order to create change.



St. Stephen's & St. Agnes

SDLC Cohort

Students Only




Opening Performance

Elizabeth Acevedo


Morning Workshops

Concurrent Sessions


Lunch at Laird Dining Hall


Afternoon Workshops

Concurrent Sessions


Closing Keynote

Richard Blanco



VDN Logo Original-04.png
logo S2S.jpg
Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 11.38.54


bottom of page