BY Liz Kalfayan
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was recognized on the Sacred Heart campus in the Edgerton Theater on Jan. 29 with a presentation given by Dr. Steve Perry on King’s life as well as what it means to be a black individual.
Perry is the founder and head of Capital Prep schools and has been working in education for 30 years. He is also an advocate for individuals who are striving to achieve academic excellence.
Since the opening of the Capital Prep schools, they have sent 100% of their students to a 4-year college or university. Past students are now attending universities such as Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania.
Perry got into this field of work because he is passionate about creating equity for everyone. “I’m not interested in making you comfortable, it’s to inform you,” said Perry.
Perry focused on equity because everyone is a human being and deserves to be treated as such.
“A person is a person,” said Perry. “A person shouldn’t determine someone else’s personhood.”
Some students in attendance at the presentation were very moved by Dr. Perry’s talk.
Sophomore Grace Hanrahan said, “It was very eye-opening.”
Hanrahan said she also believes that Dr. King has been a huge inspiration for her in that he was not ever afraid. She also believes that students now should be more progressive.
Sophomore Ellie Micallef also attended the event because the sophomore class of Student Government decided to attend the presentation instead of having a class meeting that day.
“I took a step back and realized things need to be changed,” said Micallef.
Many students seemed to realize that anyone can make a difference no matter who you are.
“It’s important to stand your ground,” said Micallef.
“You are not too young to fight for equity,” said Perry. “See them as you see yourself. A regular human being. Somebody who just wants to live.”
According to Perry, King is an individual who stood up for the rights of those who were too afraid to stand up for themselves. He wanted people to be judged on the content of their character and not for what they look like. King especially wanted his kids to be judged as kids and not by the color of their skin.
Junior Renice Desrosins presented some of her poetry at the event.
“He was pushing the idea of not making people feel comfortable,” said Desrosins. “We don’t spend enough time talking about it in school.”
Perry really tried to emphasize the fact that what he was presenting was not meant to make people feel comfortable and he really wanted to take people out of their comfort zone. He believes that it is when individuals are uncomfortable that change is made.
Dr. Emily Bryan, a professor in the Department of Languages and Literature as well as Catholic Studies, took her Catholic Intellectual Traditions class to the event.
Dr. Bryan said, “The speaker was very provocative and pointed out things we should all think about.”
In Dr. Perry’s presentation he mentioned many statistics about the black and Latino community in Connecticut. Out of the 169 cities and towns in Connecticut 51% of inmates come from three cities; Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.
It was emphasized that the Sacred Heart campus is right across the street from one of the lowest performing cities in the state academically and has some of the most individuals in jail.
As for the youth in Connecticut, 39% of the youth are black or Latino. 78% of youthful offenders are also black or Latino.
“Fight for justice, not just us,” said Perry.