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Carrying on Dr. King's Legacy

Student-led story times among events honoring MLK

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was unafraid to fight for civil rights even in the face of fierce opposition. As the fight for racial justice continues today, Bridgewater State University students are inspiring the next generation to stand up for their beliefs and to carry on King’s legacy.

As part of the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice’s MLK event series, students will lead virtual story times for preschool and school-aged youngsters. They will read and discuss books about using one’s voice to create change.

“These children are the future,” said Tessa Pequita, ’23, an elementary education and psychology major from New Bedford who aims to study reading in graduate school. “We have to put this seed in them young so they can inspire others and make this world a better place by standing up for what they believe is right.”

Tessa and Chantel Almanzar, ’23, organize a recurring bedtime book club through a collaboration between BSU and the educational nonprofit Raising Multicultural Kids. They recruited peers who became role models for the youngsters as they read stories with messages of diversity and inclusion.

“I love how it’s about multicultural kids and how we’re choosing books that represent them,” said Chantel, a health science major from Lawrence who aspires to become a doctor.

The program, which attracts children from as far away as Canada, also teaches BSU students how to engage children even through a computer screen; a skill that Chantel and Tessa may find useful in their careers.

“A lot of our students want to be educators,” said Nicole Mitchell, ’11, G’21, senior site manager for Jumpstart, a service organization within the institute. “For those who don’t want to be a teacher, it’s still a great opportunity to serve the community.”

The MLK-themed virtual story times are one aspect of the Martin Richard Institute's 2022 programming honoring King. The series also includes virtual discussions, film screenings and guest speakers. Also, the BSU community will gather on March 26 to make aprons for classrooms, welcome home signs for families transitioning out of homelessness, and school supply bags for kids in need.

“We really wanted to make sure it was an accessible program for everyone in the community and adaptable so we’re still capturing the essence of Dr. King’s work,” said Laura Mulvey, G’18, assistant director at the institute.

For more information and to register for events, visit the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice’s website.

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