If you’re anywhere near Maplewood Middle School and Maplewood Village on Friday morning, January 15, you should make every effort to see the 16th Annual Michelle Turner Martin Luther King Jr. Silent Peace March.
You’ll be rewarded with the sight — and the very quiet sounds — of hundreds of middle schoolers marching in silence.
All students and staff from Maplewood Middle School (approx. 800 people) will participate in the silent peace march to honor of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The march starts at 9:20 p.m. as the children exit the school and head for Maplewood Village, then wraps up shortly after 10 a.m. when the students return to the front of the school to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Every year, this gets me,” Lotus Petal’s proprietor Peggy Excell told Village Green last year. “I love the impact that hundreds of silent children make. Peace.”
The march was started by Maplewood Middle School sixth grade teacher Richard Palmgren as a way to have students reflect upon the life and work of King — “a man who was committed to fighting nonviolently for equality and peace.” Palmgren told the Village Green, “Initiated in January 2001, the MLK Silent Peace March is designed to both replicate the marches for equality of the 1960s and to make a profound statement that the fight for equality is still not over. The silence of 800 middle schoolers marching through Maplewood Village makes a very ‘loud’ statement about Dr. King’s dream of unity and equality.”
The march was renamed in 2011 in honor of Michelle Turner a paraprofessional who worked at MMS for many years and who passed away in September 2010.
In a message this week, Principal Jerrill Adams told the school community, “This unique silent march should help people reflect upon a man who was committed to fighting nonviolently for equality and peace. His vision of America is indeed responsible for the diversity we so richly enjoy in the Maplewood community and school. We are not only honoring the man, but his message as well.”
In the weeks leading up to the peace march, students have been using advisory periods or any extra period 1 class time to plan and create posters representing messages of equity, unity and Dr. King’s dream of peace. On the day before the peace march, the documentary, “Martin Luther King Jr: The Legacy” will be broadcast on the school’s closed circuit television channel during each period for any class to view.
After the students return to the school and recite the Pledge, they will return to classrooms to watch Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Click on any image below to see a slideshow of photos from Peggy Excell from the 2015 Silent Peace March.