MLK Day Workshops

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Please select your top 5 workshops in priority with your most preferred first.

Blackout poetry refers to any poem in which the author covers most of a source text in favor of exposing a handful of words to form a poem. There are many ways to cover the preexisting text; poets paint, collage, scribble with pen and pencil, and crayon over pages of books, newspapers, and other texts. Blackout poetry has the power to respond to, resist, and reform existing words to form new meanings, protest inequities, highlight hope, and restore dignity. Famous poets such as Reginald Dwayne Betts and Tracy K. Smith have used the form with historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to reinvent the meaning of those texts for their readers. You will have the opportunity to create your own blackout poem and turn something broken into something beautiful.

Facilitator: Mrs. Schloat

We will look at representation in science, particularly the underrepresentation of people of color in the sciences. This workshop will be interactive and participant-driving: we will look at data and think about systems and structures that might limit the participation of particular groups in the science community.

Facilitator: Jing Wang

Faculty Advisor: Mr. Acton

What is affirmative action? How much of a role should race play in college admissions? To what extent has affirmative action fulfilled its purpose, and why was it created in the first place? How will the decision of the current Supreme Court case affect the future of college admissions? In this workshop, students will explore the arguments for and against race-conscious admission policies and share their personal experiences and perspectives to gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of a practice that affects us all.

Facilitators: Svetlana Deshpande, Max Peh, Henry Zhang, Mike Lee, and Emi Takegami.

Faculty Advisor: Mr. Lim

What are some stereotypes people have against your race, and how do they impact your identity? For Asians, one of the most prominent is the Model Minority Myth, which portrays Asians as hardworking and docile. While seemingly complimentary, these labels create a chasm between Asians and other race groups. In this workshop, we will dissect the polarizing effects of the Model Minority Myth, share our own experiences with racial stereotypes, and collectively work towards a solution. Regardless of race, everyone will be able to relate to this workshop and develop compassion for all.

Facilitators: Lily Lin, Clara Chae, Jeff Wang, Bonnie Pang, and Mac Wang

Faculty Advisor: Mrs. Otterson

Join us in our workshop, 4 Corners. We will ask all participants questions on topics like U.S History, life at Deerfield, and gender and politics. After each question, participants move to a corner of the room that best represents their feelings. Each corner is marked Agree, Strongly Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. After a brief discussion, each group will elect a leader to share their sentiments, sparking an open discussion.

Facilitators: Songa Rwamucyo, Osegie Osayimwen, and Chigozie-Oge-Evan

Faculty Advisor: Mr. Perry

We will look at quotes from Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela compared to quotes and philosophies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to see how the former two influenced MLK. We will hold an open discussion about how different philosophies address violence. Our main question, which we hope to have a thought-provoking and open-ended discussion on whether non-violence is always the correct path and where that line should be drawn.

Facilitators: Ashish Sharma, Preyas Sinha, Kabir Sheth, and Nikhil Lebaka

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Friends


Have you ever wondered where Obama coined his campaign slogan, “Yes, we can”? Join the Latin American Student Alliance and Foreign-American Alliance in exploring the founding of the United Farm Workers Association as a response to immigrant stigma in the 1960s, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta’s legacies, and how the struggle of migrant workers is relevant today.

Facilitators: Isabella Casillas, Chelsea Antero, and Kaitlyn Xia

Faculty Advisor: Ms. Rivellino-Lyons

This workshop will examine how people around the world advocate for various human rights across different cultural contexts when challenged, whether political, social, economic, or so on. We will use blackout poetry, inquiry maps, whiteboarding, and photo scavenger hunts to allow participants to engage in conversations and connect by finding similarities between different examples. Students will gain a deeper understanding of what human rights mean and how they can be achieved.

Facilitators: Alisa Stepchuk, Mandy Xiang, Allyson Xu. Alessandro Turchetta, and Justin Ahn

Faculty Advisor: Ms. Samawi

Consider the many words and numbers you encounter each minute of every day. What would your life be like if you could not use this information? Why have some people–past and present, near and far–been kept from learning these necessary skills? With guidance from Elizabeth Byrne of The Literacy Project, we will explore these questions through journaling and discussion.

Facilitator: Christina Kopp (former faculty)

Our workshop will focus on the factors that impact our perceptions of our own identities (e.g., dominant and subordinate culture, intersectionality, etc.). We will share a presentation on intersectionality to start the workshop. We’ll then perform an exercise to make students more aware of their subconscious tendencies when discussing their identities, we’ll hand out the article that’ll be the workshop’s guiding piece.

Facilitators: Koko Akpan, Simi Lawal, Isaac Bakare, and Ephraim Tutu

Faculty Advisor: Mr. Wehmiller

This workshop will explore the history of colonial and racial constructs in France. We’ll do some reading and watching together to build a shared understanding of context and work towards a couple of contemporary debates and conversations. Ultimately, we’ll reflect on how these conversations parallel and/or illuminate differences in US constructions and understandings of race.

Facilitator: Mr. Westman

Our keynote speaker, Terrance Hayes, is a phenomenal and award-winning poet, well-known and respected for his use of form, his dynamic wordplay, and his work’s social commentary. In this workshop, students will engage with some of Hayes’s poems via reading, writing, and small group discussion. How do poets hone their craft, staying true to their own expression while working within a strict form?

Facilitator: Ms. Dickey

In our workshop, we will examine the experiences of various Black athletes of different eras, genders, and in different sports. We will assess the extent to which groups such as fans, the media, and governing bodies have violated the dignity of different Black athletes over time. We will divide into smaller groups to discuss topics such as Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension from team USA and engage in a group activity to wrap up the workshop.

Facilitators: Hasini Pundla, Carson Stultz, and Lila DeLuca

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Keegan

What makes up your identity? How do these different facets interact, and how do they fit into how you self-identify? Participants will create weighted identity maps by writing aspects of their identity and grouping them by how connected they feel to that part of them. We will present an example using one of the board members and explaining the process before having people try their own. This exercise aims to have people realize which parts of their identity they consciously or subconsciously lean into while also understanding that every aspect of your identity, no matter how small, contributes to who you are.

Facilitators: Xavier Aviles, Sophia Burke, Tyler Ettelson, Ana Holmes, Emma Wilmott, Kaitlyn Xia, and Miu Yatsuka

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Hills


The Gender Sexuality Alliance hosts this workshop to spread awareness about Black queer advocacy and the discrimination that queer, Black people have faced throughout the 1900s to the 2020s. The workshop will encompass the highs, lows, and changes within the Black queer community during the 20th and 21st centuries. Hosts will teach the audience about icons such as Bayard Rustlin and Audre Lorde and discuss important turning points such as the Black Trans Lives Matter movement while administering intersectional and culturally sensitive conversations.

Facilitators: Zed Deas and Will Sussbuaer

Faculty Advisor: Mx. Hayes-Golding

In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to hear first-hand from Deerfield Academy’s Advanced Art Students who contributed their original works to the 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Special Exhibit on Dignity. The artists will share their individual conceptions of dignity, how these conceptions informed their respective creative processes, and what they hoped to convey in their final art pieces. Following this, Mr. Abreu will facilitate a discussion between the artists and workshop participants on the significance of dignity in our contemporary society (both in the artistic realm and beyond).

Facilitators: Mr. Abreu and “Dignity” artists

This workshop will provide an overview of the Civil Rights Movement in the context of Black women. We aim to highlight underrepresented black women and their impact during the Civil Rights Movement, discussing and dissecting notions of race, gender, and power. Particularly how these identity markers influenced the legacy these women left, the obstacles they overcame, and why they did so. Intersectionality will be a key component of the workshop, with activities and discussions centered around our identity markers and how they come to fruition in our lives.

Facilitators: Jermani Maker, Chloe Ramirez, Ms. Moore

Faculty Advisor: Ms. Munkittrick

The On Whiteness workshop will explore what it means to be a white-identifying person both in our world and in the specific environment of Deerfield Academy. Participants will explore their identities and consider how their identity shapes their privilege. We will also define and explore the terms ally, accomplice, and co-conspirator and the responsibilities, risks, and importance of engaging in white allyship within the Deerfield community.

Facilitator: Mr. Leittermann-Long and Ms. Newlon

Participants will learn what zines are: a form of artistic expression historically used by marginalized communities that employs a DIY, handmade aesthetic. Participants will look at different examples of zines that engage with race, gender, and sexuality and then make their own zine pages. By the end of this workshop, participants will have a better understanding of how zines can amplify and communicate ideas outside of the mainstream and how they incorporate personal/lived experiences to disrupt hierarchies of oppression and power.

Facilitators: Ms. Chavva and Ms. Crain

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been in the headlines for the past few years. Some schools have even banned it from being taught. But what is CRT? And what, if anything, does CRT have to do with the 1619 project? In this workshop, we will explore what CRT is, where it came from, and how it is or isn’t being used. We will look at the controversy surrounding the teaching of CRT and try to understand the political arguments about it.

Facilitator: Ms. Melvoin

This workshop provides an overview of international Black photographers contributing to a new vision of the Black figure and reframing representation in art and fashion. This artwork celebrates creativity both in front of and behind the camera. Featured works will include Black stylists, models, make-up artists, and creative directors bringing a radically new set of references and experiences to image making. We will explore fresh perspectives on the medium of photography and reexamine notions of race, beauty, gender, and power.

Facilitator: Mr. Trelease

This workshop will introduce students to compelling environmental justice short films and visual art installations produced/built over the past decade. We will provide a space for reflection, discussion, and collaboration. The workshop will present a few case studies, and then students will break into small discussion groups to debrief the stories. Students will also be given a digital “storytelling kit” and encouraged to research environmental justice stories in their local communities and how to tell them.

Facilitators: Lila King and Taz Hancock

Faculty Advisor: Mr. Calhoun


In viewing and discussing Ailey’s masterpiece, one of the most celebrated ballets of the 20th century, participants will bear witness to the choreographer’s “blood memories” of his formative years in Texas and the experience of Black Americans’ movement from enslavement to liberation. The beauty and dignity of the human body moving through time and space and the resonance in the spirituals that offered such solace to those suffering for so long will memorably combine to bring history and hope to life.

Facilitator: Mr. Scandling

Three days into the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi, Carl and Teresa Wilkens made the heart-wrenching decision that she would take their young children to safety, and he would stay at their home in Kigali and try to help. Neither had any idea that during the next 100 days, more than a million people would be slaughtered, often by neighbors. Through a series of first-hand accounts and stories, we’ll explore the catastrophic time of genocide and Rwanda’s restorative rebuilding strategies–particularly in rebuilding trust.

Facilitator: Mr. Wilkins

What do we get when we buy into a culture? What do we lose? In this workshop, we will consider stories of people adjusting to fit into new cultures, looking critically at their experiences. From there, we will turn our attention to our own stories. We will ask what common experiences people encounter when they enter new cultural worlds and why “buying in” can be easier for some people than others. Participants should be ready to turn an analytical eye to life experiences and willing to share a story of their own with at least one other person.

Facilitator: Mr. Corliss

This workshop will look at the history of salsa music as both an art form and a sociocultural movement that has profoundly influenced contemporary Latin American and US popular music. During the first part of the session, participants will learn about salsa’s origins and its theoretical framework from perspectives on gender, race, and immigration. The second portion will be dedicated to dancing; be ready to learn new steps and move to the rhythm of different salsa classics!

Facilitators: Xavier Armas, Camila Cushman, Aly Gonzalez Koai Ortiz, and Valentina Williamson

Faculty Advisor: Mr. Botello

Economic advancement, the accumulation of generational wealth, and access to lucrative work are all elements that sit at the very center of the American dream. The dignity attached to owning one’s home, farm, or small business, however, has been unequally distributed to Black Americans as a result of discriminatory housing and lending policies. This workshop will detail how real estate developers, bankers, and a variety of other opportunists have systematically made efforts to strip dignity away from Black communities.

Facilitator: Mr. Romick