The process of creating this exhibit had the most impact on me by showing me just how important empathy is in our world today and how much good can be done if you are willing to put yourself in another’s shoes. ~Exhibit Co-Creator Megan Lienau (Mount Vernon, Class of 2018)
What stood out to me was their deep empathy and compassion towards this idea of service. It was Martin Luther King’s prophetic words in his “Drum Major Instinct” sermon that gripped their hearts to want to explore this world not as lone rangers but as people committed to be modern day drum majors through sacrificial living. Mount Vernon students have taken a step towards living that out and have started to embrace what it truly means to show up and create a more just world. ~Terence Lester (Founder, Love Beyond Walls)
Capturing Dr. Martin Luther King’s timeless message of social justice, Mount Vernon Innovation Diploma students recently created an exhibit for the Center for Civil and Human Rights which was open throughout the summer. Honoring King’s legacy and commemorating the 50th anniversary of his passing, the students designed an immersive experience entitled the Drum Major Instinct–Continue the March.
On August 14, which happened to be the first day of school for the 2018-19 year, students, parents, and Atlanta community members celebrated the exhibit at a reception held at the Center. The event provided participants the opportunity to hear the story behind the purpose of the project.
“Our mission, to empower people to take the protection of every human’s rights personally, could not have been better matched by this exhibit. As a juxtaposition of King’s words to live a committed life behind, the students’ first-person experience provided visitors the opportunity to learn about the work of contemporary activists who are affecting social change,” shared Ted Ward, Education Coordinator with Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Exhibit curator and co-creator Bryce Jones (Class of 2019) explained, “We wanted to make our exhibit as innovative as possible, while still drawing from the essential storytelling techniques that the Center used to design its main exhibit. Virtual reality is a fantastic medium for storytelling; putting on a headset transports you into an entirely different world. The time we spent on this exhibit really speaks to the power of its central message. We should all strive to be drum majors for justice.”
Some of the highlights of the exhibit included footage from the Women’s Day March and the March for Our Lives rally held in Atlanta. The team traveled to Memphis to film activists taking the stage to commemorate the 50th anniversary of MLK’s death at the Lorraine Motel. Notable people interviewed on camera were representatives from Congressman John Lewis’s office, local activists like Terence Lester of Love Beyond Walls, the Director of Stanford University’s MLK Institute, Dr. Clayborne Carson and the director of Georgia’s ACLU, Andrea Young.
“Over the course of the year, I watched this team grow into empathic storytellers who curated and created a truly unique experience looking at current activism through the lens of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. I was constantly impressed by their thoughtfulness and intentionality as they researched, interviewed, and connected with a diverse range of opinions, perspectives, and individuals,” says Innovation Diploma Director Brad Droke.
Co-creators and curators of the virtual reality exhibit were Megan Lienau (Class of 2018), Bryce Jones (Class of 2019), Skyler Tiffin (Class of 2020), Caroline Quatsha (Class of 2020), and Oliver Schouest (Class of 2020).
To learn more about the partnership between Mount Vernon and The Center for Civil and Human Rights, listen to a recent MV Stories podcast featuring the team of student curators.
About Innovation Diploma
Innovation Diploma, a joint program between Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation, is a student-run transformational design consultancy that inspires, creates, and implements high-impact work now.
About the Center for Civil and Human Rights
The Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta is an engaging cultural attraction that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s struggle for Global Human Rights. Its purpose is to create a safe space for visitors to explore the fundamental rights of all human beings so that they leave inspired and empowered to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their communities.