Team NOLA on MLK Day

By Sarah Ramteke on February 28, 2012 in AmeriCorps

On MLK Day, Team NOLA joined more than 200 volunteers at the Success Preparatory Academy (SPA) for a day of service organized by City Year New Orleans.

SPA is one of many charter schools in New Orleans that seeks to close the “achievement gap” present in the city’s schools. Promoting the core values of Achievement, Enthusiasm, Respect, Service, Teamwork, and Ubuntu, SPA serves some of the most at-risk students in the country– 96% of whom receive free or reduced lunch.

Our mission for the day was to beautify the school. To that end, Team NOLA helped paint two murals. One mural depicted the core values over the New Orleans skyline. The other was of a quote by Dr. King from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”  Dr. King wrote this letter in response to a few moderate white clergymen who denounced him as an outsider stirring up racial tension in their city of Birmingham. Dr. King argued that the tension he was causing was necessary in order for society to make true progress in civil rights. And, though he was based in Atlanta, Dr. King felt morally obligated to take part in the civil rights battles being fought in Birmingham.

It is in this context that he wrote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

This quote echos the school’s core value of Ubuntu, a southern African philosophy which stresses the interconnectedness of all human beings.

After we finished painting, we were treated to a buffet featuring everything from jambalaya to injera.

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