Harpeth Hall students, faculty and staff celebrated Black History month at an all-school assembly on Friday, February 22.
The day's special guest speaker was Vanderbilt University's Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, James Page. Vice Chancellor Page works closely with the chancellor and senior administration at Vanderbilt to cultivate a campus community that embraces the values of equity, diversity and inclusion. Page joined the Nashville and Vanderbilt community in August 2018. He was previously at Johns Hopkins Medicine, where he served as vice president and chief diversity officer.
An engineer by training, Page talked about his analytic and quantifiable approach to his work. The audience appeared to respond most to his easy-going style combined with humor and approach-ability. The girls laughed and enjoyed his delivery of a modern fable about a giraffe and an elephant to get the girls thinking and talking about diversity and inclusivity. The story is an excerpt from a book by R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr. called Building a House for Diversity. It begins with a short fable about how a friendship between the two animals is threatened when the house built for a tall, skinny giraffe cannot accommodate his invited guest, a broad bulky elephant. Page effectively used the metaphor as a launching pad for an engaged discussion with the students around acceptance, mutual respect, and understanding and valuing difference.
Following Mr. Page, students presented a video and information about Black History month, as well as the history of Jazz and the Blues. The assembly concluded with a performance by Haviland Whiting '20, former Nashville Youth Poet Laureate. She sang and performed one of her original poems. Following is an excerpt:
"I have seen the future, and in it
We are in love.
In love with the ability to feel something
So human like connectedness.
The solution to racism will never end racism.
We, as a nation, must stop focusing
On things ending and instead
Focus on beginning.
Begin love, begin awareness,
Begin caring until your heart rips apart
At the seams.
King said, hate cannot drive out hate;
Only love can do that.
So, hate like no one is watching
Love like the World is."
--Haviland Whiting '20