The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day prayer service encourages community and inclusion


Zara Black '23

The Sacred Heart community comes together to celebrate and reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through the annual prayer service.

The Sacred Heart Greenwich community gathered to honor the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) at the annual MLK Day prayer service January 11.  Students, faculty, and parents welcomed the Vision Steppers and the GospelKnights choir after two years of celebrating virtually due to COVID-19.  Members of the community inspired reflection with readings, prayers, and songs, as they shared a common goal of bringing awareness to Dr. King’s legacy of non-violence and peaceful determination.

Juniors Genny Grey and Ila David invite reflection through a presentation of songs.  Zara Black ’23

The prayer service included reflections from seniors Vivi Caruso and Laura O’Connor, who discussed their school service trip this past summer to Selma, Alabama.  Additionally, juniors Genny Grey and Ila David sang and played music and songs that empowered the Black community.  Ila commented on how she believes the connection between music and identity can tell the stories of people’s lives while creating understanding. 

“I always knew music was undoubtedly one of the most important things in my life,” Ila said.  “Specifically, many Black artists through the decades have used music and lyrics to speak out about racism, justice, and Black pride, revolutionizing music in all musical categories from Soul, Gospel, and Blues to R&B, rap, Pop and HipHop.  Being represented in the music industry has fueled my passion for song and dance and has made me feel seen and heard.  Music helps me believe that change is possible, that we can make a difference in the world we live in.  It gives me hope that the world can unlearn hate and strive to spread love.”

The Vision Steppers and the GospelKnights choir contributed to the celebration with special performances.  Alongside both groups, students from the senior class, Madrigals, and Chorus participated in spreading messages of peace, unity, and equality through their dance routines and songs.

Director and Founder of the Vision Steppers, a gospel step team from the Immaculate Conception School in South Bronx, New York, Mr. Dabe James led the steppers in their performance and helped organize their choreography.  Each year, Mr. James works to incorporate Sacred Heart seniors into their routine to honor Dr. King’s life.  Senior Alexandra Bastone is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Vision Steppers’ choreography.

“I remember freshman year, my first year at Sacred Heart, watching the Gospel Knight Choir and Vision Steppers lead the seniors and audience with their dancing and singing. It was so inspiring and up lifting,” Alexandra said.  “So, when I was given the opportunity to participate this year, I was so excited and honored.  I think this Sacred Heart tradition is not only incredibly fun but also very important because it instills the values of leadership, confidence, and unity that Dr. MLK embodied.”

Mr. Wayne Benjamin sings a solo at the annual MLK prayer service.  Zara Black ’23

Sacred Heart invited the GospelKnights, a religious choir that integrates song, instruments, and choreography into their performances, to sing with the Madrigals.  They sang “Do You Know Him,” “I Praise You Lord,” “Make a Difference,” and “The Lord’s Prayer/Nobody Greater.”  A member of the GospelKnights choir, Mr. Wayne Benjamin remarked on the solidarity of the Sacred Heart community.  He reflected that the prayer service demonstrated compassion and inclusion through an array of music, media, readings, and dance.

The love behind everything he believed and taught and everything he spoke on resonates right here in this gym,” Mr. Benjamin said.  “It starts with ya’ll.  It does.  The fact that you would welcome us in, the fact that we would come here every year and dedicate song, dance, and love.  All on behalf of Mr. King.  Through music, through dance, through interpretative speaking, it is all the same.  We can try to put forth our best together.” 

Featured Image by Zara Black ’23