Trinity Wall Street hosted a Day of Service in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in St. Paul’s Chapel on Monday, January 19, 2015. More than 300 people attended, including members of four downtown faith communities: Trinity Wall Street, Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue, Park 51 Community Center, and Lower Manhattan Community Church. Representatives from each congregation offered reflection on a quote from Dr. King, and then attendees broke into small groups based on age to discuss Dr. King’s words. Afterwards, attendees packed meals for the Brown Bag Lunch program.
Four groups of youth from around the city and around the country participated. The Visitor File asked students from each group the same question: How has your understanding of Dr. King and his legacy evolved this year?
Marquise, Zion-Benton Township High School
“His mission, what he was trying to accomplish: bringing everyone together…Seeing all these people here, doing this, this is something he was working towards.”
Dresden, Zion-Benton Township High School
“Honestly, before I knew about him, but nothing big, until we saw the movie [Selma]. And it just showed how much work he put into it and all the stress he dealt with between white people at the time that didn’t like him, the government, the president. I admire him to be honest. I could never do that. He just put everything into it. His entire life, he gave his life for it.”
Marquise and Dresden are senior social studies students from Zion-Benton Township High School, a school of about 2,300 located forty miles north of Chicago. Their group was in New York on the last leg of a historical and cultural tour of the major cities on the East Coast.
Destiny, Harlem Youth Court
“I have to learn how to apply justice into my everyday life, and that love is power and power is love. And without either one of them there isn’t really an equal balance.”
Hamidou, Harlem Youth Court
“I learned that with power comes great responsibility and without love those responsibilities can be abused. If there’s no balance between love and power it can lead to destruction.”
Destiny and Hamidou are part of Harlem Youth Court, which trains teenagers to act as judges, jurors, youth advocates, and community advocates in order to handle real life court cases involving fellow teenagers. The program focuses on restorative justice.
Isabella, Church of the Heavenly Rest
“Now I see more of how it’s really important to help people—now we’re packing for people who don’t have food—now I see how important that is.”
Liam, Church of the Heavenly Rest
“I agree with that. Now I see how he [Dr. King] helped the community on a smaller level than the Civil Rights Movement.”
Isabella and Liam are members of the 2015 confirmation class from the Church of the Heavenly Rest on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. They participated with their confirmation mentors. Service learning is a required part of their confirmation studies.
Tenasica, The Amicettes
“I think he [Dr. King] did a good thing and he tried to help everybody to be equal. And I think he tried really hard and that’s good.”
Tenasica is a member of the Amicettes, a youth auxiliary club of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc Sigma Kappa Zeta chapter of Brooklyn. The Amicettes are girls ages 9-13 who come together with Zeta Phi Beta chapter members to work on cultural competency, leadership development, academic success, cultural enrichment, and community service.