MLK Day: “Moonlight” and More

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was celebrated on January 15 across the US. Here in beautiful Hudson, Ohio, Western Reserve Academy had its own way of celebrating with the second annual WRA MLK Day Film Festival. Ms. Maseelall was the main organizer for the event, in which every student at WRA watched a movie that night pertaining to the issues of racism and prejudice that Dr. King spoke against. The week before, Ms. Maseelall sent out forms so that each student could indicate their preferences from a list of a variety of films. The topics ranged from sports to education to domestic life, all with the intent of reminding the student body of the importance of Dr. King’s message. Movies ranged from 2017’s Best Picture winner Moonlight to the classic black-and-white To Kill a Mockingbird. No matter the movie, each group was to engage in a discussion about the themes of the movie and their significance for the movie’s subject and time period as well as our own.

All of the films were hosted by different faculty members in separate locations, so WRA students were spread all over the lawn’s wide sweep. That night teachers were told not to assign any homework, so many students were excited to watch some great cinema as well as to relax for one night. Isabelle Murray ’19 watched Selma, a 2014 movie specifically focused on the march for voting rights for African-Americans that was led by Dr. King himself. “I liked the ending of the film, which had a great and moving piece of music,” Murray ’19 said. Many of the teachers were also enthusiastic about the films they were watching. Ms. Boesch, who led the group for 12 Years A Slave, a 2013 adaptation, thought the film was “amazing” but also remarked that the film’s heavy subject matter was impactful for her and the students. As for possible improvements, Murray ’19 voiced that she “would have liked different discussion to allow more time for personal reflection, as well as better snacks.” The refreshments available consisted of popcorn and water, for some a downgrade from the granola bars and Capri-Sun of last year’s inaugural festival.

Overall, the second MLK film festival was a success for students and teachers alike. I personally enjoyed watching To Kill A Mockingbird, and the lack of homework was a nice change of pace. I look forward to what next year’s festival will offer!

– Matthew Bloom ’19

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