Morgan State University President David Wilson was the keynote speaker at Gilman's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation on January 17. Wilson holds four academic degrees: a B.S. in political science and an M.S. in education from Tuskegee University; an Ed.M. in educational planning and administration from Harvard University and an Ed.D. in administration, planning and social policy, also from Harvard.
The Convocation started with a welcome from Director of Community, Inclusion, and Equity (C.I.E.) Johnnie Foreman and an invocation by Jalisi Saad ‘19. Headmaster Henry P. A. Smyth noted that the school recently celebrated a milestone event: the 50th anniversary of the first black students to graduate from Gilman. He introduced a commemorative video that was created to give historical context to the integration of Gilman School.
The keynote speaker was introduced by Noah Seth ’19, who listed Dr. Wilson’s many awards and achievements. He particularly noted Wilson’s character, which was shaped by the hardships of his upbringing, as one of 11 children born to a sharecropping family near McKinley, Alabama.
Wilson talked about “difference makers” and wondered, quoting George Bernard Shaw, “what would our condition be if there hadn’t been people who ‘not only saw things that were and asked why, but dreamed things that never were, and asked why not.’” He challenged Gilman boys to be difference makers.
Speeches were interspersed with uplifting performances by the Traveling Men, Gilman and Bryn Mawr Strings, and Jazz Group. After Nichi Pandey ’19 recited the poetry of “Calon Lan,” a traditional Welsh song, the Strings performed the song, accompanied by Headmaster Smyth on the mandolin. A new choral combination included the Lower School’s Treble Ts, Middlemen, and US Glee Club. They sang “Going Up Yonder.”
Since the Convocation opened with the singing of the National Anthem, it was fitting to end with "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which is commonly referred to as the Black National Anthem. Prior to the song, Simeon Parker ‘19 took the stage to explain its significance and history. The Treble Ts joined the Traveling Men for this performance.
Here is a video of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation. In addition to Dr. Wilson’s address and fine musical performances, it includes the commemorative video of the integration of Gilman.