When it comes to understanding injustice, and the role society must play in stopping it, there’s no greater context than that of war.
On January 19, as part of a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, keynote speaker Haider Hamza challenged Williston Northampton School students and faculty to examine the causes of violence, and use that understanding to help stop it.
Speaking in the Phillips Stevens Chapel, with photos of conflicts flashing on the large projection screen behind him, Mr. Hamza asked his audience to embrace the spirit of the day—a common humanity.
“Once we identify with every human anywhere…then it’s unrealistic that we can be able to wage wars any more,” he said. “We need to understand how violence happens and how it doesn’t take us anywhere.”
In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Williston Northampton welcomed Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan education activist and co-founder and president of the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA) to campus on Monday, January 20.
Ms. Basij-Rasikh spoke to the student body about growing up in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, when girls were forbidden to attend school. “I have extremely amazing parents,” she said. “They could not stand the idea of us, especially the four sisters in my family, growing up uneducated.”
Rather than flee, her family decided to stay in Afghanistan and educate their four daughters secretly, illegally. For the next five years, Ms. Basij-Rasikh dressed in boy’s clothing and took her older sister to a secret school in the home of one of their neighbors. More than 100 young girls attended classes in this tiny makeshift school. Ms. Basij-Rasikh remembers constantly fearing that the Taliban would discover the school and kill everyone inside.
Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan female education activist, believes the best future for Afghans lies with educating the younger generations, both boys and girls.
Ms. Basij-Rasikh will be the keynote speaker at the Williston Northampton School’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly on Monday, January 20.
In a 2012 TED talk Ms. Basij-Rasikh recalled the morning she was told she could openly attend school as a girl. Under Taliban rule she was forced to attend school in secret, putting her family in great danger. For five years she would dress in boy’s clothes and escort her older sister to a secret school where more than 100 students were packed into a living room.
“I was very lucky to grow up in a family where education was prized and daughters were treasured,” she said. “To [my father] there was a greater risk in not educating his children.”
Ms. Basij-Rasikh graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College and was the first woman to attend college in her family. When she returned to Afghanistan she co-founded the School of Leadership Afghanistan, SOLA, a boarding school for girls in Afghanistan.
“To me, Afghanistan is a country of hope and boundless possibilities,” said Ms. Basij- Rasikh, “and every single day the girls of SOLA remind me of that. Like me, they are dreaming big.”
Smith College Assistant Professor of Afro-American studies, Professor Daphne Lamothe, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day ceremony. Professor Lamothe is the parent of two Williston students.
A member of Smith’s faculty since 2004, Professor Lamothe teaches classes on African-American literature, 1746 to 1900 and the Harlem Renaissance. According to the Smith website, she plans to teach Introduction to Black Culture and Literatures of African American Migration in the future.
Professor Lamothe received her B.A. from Yale University and her Ph.D. in English from the University of California Berkley. Her book, Inventing the New Negro: Narrative, Culture, and Ethnography, was published in 2008 by University of Pennsylvania Press.
Lee D. Baker, the dean of academic affairs at Duke University, reviewed Inventing the Negro calling it brave and thoughtful. “Daphne Lamothe has brought together history of science, literary criticism, and the analysis of a seasoned scholar of the New Negro movement in a way that simply has never been done before,” he said.
The lecture will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, January 21 in the Williston gymnasium. The event is not open to the public.
The Williston Northampton School is pleased to welcome this year’s guest speaker for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Assembly, Duane Jackson, Ph.D.
Dr. Jackson is a professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the chair of the Psychology Department, a member of the Executive Board of Zoo Atlanta, Deacon of Ebenezer Baptist Church (frequently associated with Dr. King), has served in military intelligence, and is a passionate zoologist with a focus in entomology and ethology.
He has a deep connection with Dr. King, who was his mentor and family friend. Dr. Jackson is going to speak about what life was like as a teen during the Civil Rights movement and how Dr. King affected his life.