The Orange Chair

Metro Detroit youth gather to discuss race in the education system

Owen Parent , Copy Editor

 

On the 54-year anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “The Other America” speech that was delivered at Grosse Pointe South High School, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, spoke to young people in the Pointes about similar woes in America right now. Photo Credit: Margot Murphy ’23

On March 14, 2022, the Grosse-Pointes Harper Woods NAACP Branch hosted The Other America 2022, an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech at Grosse Pointe South High School. To the left of the podium where the panel took place, sat an old orange chair. The chair looked seasoned; A chair that had carried great stories and provided more than just a place for someone to sit.

That chair represents resilience, bravery, courage, a willingness to do something never done before. That orange chair was the chair Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sat in at his speech at Grosse Pointe South High School, on that fateful day 50 years ago.

While the orange chair might’ve been the most enticing attraction to some at the event, the appearance of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi captivated the audience in an instant.

“Dr. Kendi, one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist scholars, is a National Book Award winner and a New York Times best-selling author of five books for adults and three children books,” read the press release, issued on March 4, 2022.

The event hosted two panels, each panel having Dr. Kendi and five students, all coming from high schools in Grosse Pointe, Harper Woods and Detroit. Students had opportunities to ask Dr. Kendi questions, and at the end of each panel was the chance for those in the audience to ask their questions, either for Dr. Kendi or students on the panel.

Dr. Kendi and panel members discussed a variety of topics, with many revolving around the racist and bigoted history of

High school students from the Grosse Pointes, Harper Woods and Detroit will participate in a panel with Dr. Kendi. Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit will give opening and closing performances. Photo credit: Margot Murphy ’23

Grosse Pointe, which Dr. Kendi had plenty of insight for.

“Grosse Pointe has to think deeply about how it can repair the damages it has inflicted,” Kendi explained.

Also consistently discussed on the panels was the theme of justice. Justice is what those like Martin Luther King Jr. were striving for, devoting their entire lives to pursue and someday possibly grasp it. Kendi explained in-depth his opinions on justice, and how it’s important to recognize the true meaning of justice.

“Those who have the least should be receiving the most,” Kendi said, “To me, that’s justice.”