In recognition of the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Bryn Mawr hosted civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson in a special assembly with Middle and Upper School students. Mckesson is a co-founder of Campaign Zero, an organization dedicated to understanding public safety outside of policing, and his work focuses primarily on innovation, equity and social justice.
Mckesson encouraged students to challenge the status quo to improve our communities. “So much of what we think about in community, is a reminder, that even if we didn’t create the problem, even if it didn’t originate with us, we have a responsibility to intercede in so many ways,” he said.
To encourage activism and engagement, Mckesson advocated for the creation of the Maryland Police Accountability Act, which passed in 2022, and was written with the help of a 17-year-old student. He shared the story of her involvement, telling students, “Age is not the only indicator of whether people have the skills or not. Some of the most incredible people who have pushed us, and protested, and challenged have been the youngest.”
While answering student questions, Mckesson highlighted the power of small actions, such as sending letters, signing petitions and supporting social justice movements. “There is nothing that ever changed the world that didn’t start in a living room, a kitchen, or a conference room,” he said, “it always starts small.”
He concluded by reminding students that no matter what, they always have a choice. “You always have the choice to do what is right. Sometimes it’s small, sometimes it’s big, but you always have a choice.”