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MLK Day 2024 @ The Pomfret School

Updated: Mar 8

Event: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Keynote Speaker, Pomfret School, Pomfret, CT

Date: Monday, January 15, 2024

Kicks of Choice: Nike Air Max 1 “Masters”

Thoughts captured on January 18, 2024

 

The request to appear at Pomfret unfolded through a long overdue conversation with Tim Richards. When I arrived at St. George’s School, Mr. Richards was my faculty advisor. He arrived to the Hilltop a year before me, so I was his first four-year student advisee. There are many stories I could tell about those days, but Mr. Richards did his best to help me get to the other side of St. George’s and over to Williams College.

 

Skip stage to over thirty years later. We reconnected via LinkedIn – he was excited about the work I was doing and seeing “K for the Way” and it’s reception in real-time. While we were catching up, he mentioned “I wonder if you’d ever consider coming and speaking with our students?” to which I responded, “Sure – apparently that’s what I do these days, lol.” I took it as a matter-of-fact statement. However, within minutes, Tim connected me with Dr. Cory McCarter, Pomfret’s Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and within two weeks, I was scheduled as the MLK Day keynote speaker.

 

What most people don’t know is right after Christmas, my biological mother got very sick. She went to the ER on Thursday 12-28-2023, and things just spiraled downhill quickly. I was supposed to leave for Pomfret on Sunday 1-14-2024 at 10am. However, I got a call from the hospital at about 6am informing me my biological mother had passed away. Somehow, I went into auto-pilot; I made all the calls, began to get the ball rolling for my mother so that she wasn’t just lying in the hospital morgue. I informed my family of what happened. And then somehow, I was able to pack my bags, and go to Pomfret. For some reason, it didn’t feel right to cancel with less than 24 hours to go. And I knew that my biological mother would be upset if I didn’t go. So I did. And it was one of the best things I ever did…

 

For my MLK Day talk, the entire Pomfret community was receptive and highly attentive. I was literally welcomed with open arms. And no one knew what I was going through, but it was just what I needed. I needed to be in a space where I was sharing my thoughts about this work I've spent so much time cultivating. And I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but I learned quickly – and it felt phenomenal. Then I’d have lunch with the Black Student Union. Those students were everything I wish I could have been at SG. They were keen and perceptive. They could pinpoint the racism and the discrimination that was happening – AND they could articulate it in ways that I never could in my high school years. Their energy was everything!

 

After lunch was a series of workshops. Tim walked me from workshop to workshop, showing me around the school but also using the time in between for us to talk and catch up, as I hadn’t seen him in over 13 years. But what I started to realize was that we couldn’t get from Point A to Point B quickly. Students, faculty, staff would stop us to thank me for sharing my work with the Pomfret community. I didn’t realize my words would resonate in the ways they did. Each of those interactions gave me a different perspective on my talk, which was about reflecting on my boarding school days, thinking about how Hip Hop helped me through those moments, and how dreaming big was critical to human growth. Each person gave me a gem that I happily accepted, and held onto so I could reflect on the insight.

 

See, I thought the talk went well, but you know how sometimes our perception and reality can be different things…? This wasn’t that! Instead, this MLK Day talk became a moment when I realized I was on the right path. And I knew there was mourning and grieving to get to. But I like to think my biological mother wanted me to see I’d made the right choices in real-time. We made sure to get the BSU students copies of “K for the Way.” And I promised Tim I wouldn’t let another 13 years go by without us being in contact. Because the other thing I learned was looking back at St. George’s, young people were asked to take care of young people. Tim might have been 27 when I was 15 – we were ALL trying to figure it out together. It was the type of real-time learning you don’t get to acknowledge until you’re far enough removed to reflect on it. There were other parts of this trip that were really special and meaningful. But what’s most important for me to share is Pomfret helped me to heal and make sense of what this next chapter in my personal and professional journey looks like. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.

 

Infinite thanks to Tim Richards, Dr. Cory McCarter and the entire Pomfret community for welcoming me and letting me share some thoughts! Shout out to Lance and Alex – I’m looking forward to seeing how y’all finessed that Hip Hop Timeline presentation. And last but certainly not least, special shout out to the BSU students - I'm still impressed and inspired by your energy – keep pushin’ forward, I'm expecting BIG THINGS from all of y'all, for real!!!

 



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