Juneteenth Speaker Series: Laura Jordan and Karen Cooper

Lower School counselor Laura Jordan and fourth grade teacher Karen Cooper presented at the first Juneteenth Speaker Series of the school year. The pair spoke to Middle and Upper School students about their travels together over the summer — to the Whitney Plantation Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, and to the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

Jordan, who is white, and Cooper, who is Black, said that before embarking on the experience that would have them examining the history of slavery in the United States together, they had to trust each other, understand that they may see things differently from one another, and be open to the other’s perspectives. Both women shared stories from the trip that were meaningful to them.

Cooper said the opportunity to go on this deeply moving journey — made possible by a Gilman faculty grant — connected the two faculty members in friendship, allowed them to experience beauty, tragedy, hope, and grit, and gave them a better understanding of one another. At the end of the presentation, she shared a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension. It is the presence of justice.”