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Ashley McIntosh ’25 delivered this chapel talk at a Wednesday night service organized by the Student Diversity Committee in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The theme for this year's MLK chapel is the Power of One. There are many ways to interpret the word “one,” whether solitude or unity. Upon hearing this theme, I was reminded of Jamaica's motto, "Out of Many One People,” which refers to the many cultures that came together to produce and sustain the nation. No matter what race, class, religion, age, or gender, we are all consolidated through the shared experience of being Jamaican. Jamaican culture is representative of the many people that came together from different places to create something truly unique. Additionally, Jamaica has influenced so many other countries and has been a part of what makes other demographics unique. I am a proud amalgamation of the melting pot of Jamaica. I am of Nigerian descent with Indian, Chinese, German, and Scottish ancestry. Just by looking at me, you wouldn’t be able to tell that my ancestry is as complex as it is. I am so much more than what meets the eye. My life experiences, my values, and that of my forefathers shape me into who I am today. This revelation has made me realize that never does the color of our skin express the whole story of who we are, and it certainly is not an indication of what we are capable of. In the famous words of Walt Whitman, “We contain multitudes.”
At SAS Connect, I was welcomed by Señora Ramirez’s definition of what a Saint is. For those of you unfamiliar, it is a long list of qualities that St. Andrew’s students may or may not have. My favorite of this list read, “If you are good at math, or if you aren’t, you are a Saint.” I took a sigh of relief right there, because by no means was I good at math. It was followed by a summative statement along the lines of: “Whoever you are or aren’t is what makes you a Saint.” At the end of the day, we are all Saints. We are all here for the purpose that we have something original to bring to the table that contributes to the common goal. We are St. Andrew’s, so much more than just the buildings of Amos or Founders, so much more than tangible things and physical locations, so much more than what meets the eye. SAS is the culmination of what makes each and every one of us unique. It is not a matter of luck or chance that we are all sitting here tonight. It is because the common denominator in all of our uniqueness is the ability to contribute to the community in some way shape, or form. There has never been a you to walk the halls of St. Andrew’s and there never will be another you, so I challenge us to do what we are meant to do, what we were brought here to do, and be the change that we want to see in this community. I encourage us to acknowledge the power that we have and be catalysts for change in our community. The Bible tells us that a city on a hill cannot be hidden, so let our light so shine that others may see our good works and be inspired to do the same. We have the power to make a difference at SAS. SAS has the power to make a difference in Delaware. Delaware has the power to influence the U.S., and the U.S. has the power to impact the world. If you notice, the spark that lights the fuse in it all—is you.
This message is fitting for Martin Luther King Day because he had a dream that one day people would be seen for the contents of their characters and not for the color of their skin. As I mentioned, the two aren’t indicative of one another. You can’t tell the contents of our characters from the color of our skin, and neither is the content of our characters confirmation of our skin color.
We were founded on a dream, a dream of being scholars committed to justice, peace, and respect for every human being. We came together to define this dream as being St. Andrew’s. We work together to achieve this dream every day, and today we are seated together to reap the benefits of our successes. On the one hand, we are one, individual people varying from one another in many ways, but we come together to make one, one team, one dream, with the power to change the world. Out of the many of us here, we are one people.
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