(Photo by Holly Quinn)
One Village Alliance (OVA) and Raising Kings hosted another Day of Service on Monday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., returning to the Delaware Art Museum with a more intentional sense of purpose than before.
“We’re really being intentional about connecting service opportunities with social justice this year,” said Chandra Pitts, president and CEO of One Village Alliance.
“Volunteering is good,” she said, “but that’s not why Dr. King was killed.”
Instead of entertainment, this year the event’s stage was used for flash talks — on voting rights, census participation, the school-to-prison pipeline and women’s health equity, followed by a screening of the short documentary “Birth vs. Black: Uncovering Infant Mortality in the Black Community” by Janay Muhammad.
As always, Raising Kings offered tie-dying demos for kids and mentoring, and there was a letter-writing campaign — this year called “Letter of Love,” a project in partnership with The Black Iris Project ballet “A Mother’s Rite” that collects letters to mothers who have lost children to police or state violence.
This year there were also creative projects that tied into the flash talks. In the museum’s art studio, attendees made chess boards to be used as part of OVA’s chess mentorship program, a tie-in with the school-to-prison pipeline talk.
“We’re going to be talking about how it relates to mentoring and how you can intervene, so those chess boards have everything to do with supporting mentors,” Pitts said. “You can take them home to strengthen your own family or play chess with a young person in the community but we’ll also be taking some of those chess boards to Ferris [School for Boys],” she said, referring to the state-run school and treatment facility for court-committed male youth.
All ages — even young kids — learned a simple knitting technique and made tiny caps for babies in the NICU at Nemours Children’s Hospital, tying in with the woman’s health equity talk and the documentary.
“It’s about representation,” Pitts said. “That’s why we’re talking about the census,” a process that minority communities often avoid out of fear, leading to population stats that are lower than reality — which has historically led to things like overcrowded schools and a lack of resources.
This year’s MLK Day of Service also fell during the run of the special exhibition “Posing Beauty in African American Culture, a curated show that opened in October and closes on Jan. 26, allowing participants to explore it for free, as well as tour the galleries with guides that focused on African American artists such as Edward Loper, Sr., Aaron Douglas and Lois Mailou Jones.
The OVA MLK Day of Service event kicked off a month of events for Raising Kings, culminating in the “I Have A Dream” pitch competition at the Christina Cultural Arts Center on Feb. 25.
Upcoming Raising Kings events include:
- 1/22 — Protect Our Kings Chess Challenge at Ferris School For Boys
- 1/23 — “A Mother’s Right”: Performance/Panel at the Delaware Art Museum
- 1/25 — Raising Kings Conference at PS DuPont Middle School
- 1/30 — Louis L. Redding Street Law Session at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor
- 2/2 — MLK “I Have A Dream” Pitch Competition Christina Cultural Arts Center
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