"Be the best of whatever you are" was the message Martin Luther King Jr. conveyed to young students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia in 1967, with his speech What Is Your Life's Blueprint. It's more than fitting that Jordan Loud '20 recited that same speech at this year's Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Event on February 5, following remarks from keynote speaker Dr. Yvonne Spicer – the first Mayor of the City of Framingham – who also spoke of her life's journey.
"If you had told me, this would be my life, ten years ago, I would have laughed at you," she said in Keith Auditorium to a crowd of students, faculty, and staff members. Yet, now, Mayor Spicer believes wholeheartedly that her newest role advocating for the people of Framingham is a job she inadvertently prepared for her entire career.
The "long-shot kid" made history in 2018 as the first African-American woman to be popularly elected Mayor in Massachusetts. Though content in her position at the Museum of Science leading global educational partnerships, Dr. Spicer spoke of her desire to contribute to the community and to "do something no one has done before" as her motivation for running for office. Her advice to students was simply stated: "never be afraid of a challenge. If you can dream it, you can do it." Today, she's led the city for three years and credits "a lot of heart, hope, and perseverance" to her success. Yet, more than anything, Mayor Spicer honors her parents' work and sacrifice for the person she's become today. “When I think of Martin Luther King Jr., and I think of my own two parents, there's not a moment I don't appreciate what they've given me, and I know I have to give that back to my community."
To end the evening program, the Curry College Office of Diversity and Inclusion presented the inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award. The honor recognizes the contributions of Curry students, faculty, or staff members who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to social change, service, and community engagement. "We wanted to create a new opportunity at the college to honor members of our community who have gone above and beyond to foster social justice education and action," says Jeannette Buntin, assistant vice president of engagement and diversity.
The inaugural award was presented to Sarah Simmons '20 for her work with the Curry College Feminist United Student Club, where she led a "Wellness Wednesday" health drive initiative to gather feminine product donations for Rosie's Place, a nearby women's shelter. "Sarah is always looking for ways to engage her peers in social justice-related discussions and provide a voice for those who are not often heard. She believes in her community and encourages them to take action," says Jayson Baker, assistant professor, communication, who submitted her nomination for the award.