Every February, in observance of Black History Month, MICDS holds the Bond Lecture, in which a noted African-American comes to campus to speak with students, parents and alumni, as well as spend time in our classrooms. Past participants have included authors, lecturers and civil rights leaders. The Erik Lyons Bond ’77 lecture is named in honor of the first African-American graduate to complete all eight grades at Saint Louis Country Day School. During his years at CDS, Erik Lyons Bond ’77 distinguished himself in scholastics, athletics and student government. He served as student council president, captain of the varsity football team and was selected by his team as the league’s most valuable player. Erik was named a National Merit Scholar, and he was also an accomplished musician and artist. He died unexpectedly in 1985.
On Tuesday, Upper School students assembled in Brauer Auditorium to hear Dr. Lerone A. Martin of Washington University, this year’s Bond Lecture guest speaker. Dr. Martin began with a quote from W.E.B. DuBois: “Education must not simply teach work – it must teach Life.” He then took students through the history of his family, his grandparents who fled racism and were part of the Great Migration and his parents who were concerned about their five children getting a good education so they could find decent jobs.
He shared how he has grappled with the questions of what it means to be human, what it means to interact with people who are different than us and how to assess and understand our experiences. He challenged students to make connections, to adjust and wrestle with the pressing issues we see today and reminded them that education is the key to tackling these things. “It’s not about memorizing dates in history or calculations in math,” Dr. Martin said. “You’re practicing and cultivating what it means to be a citizen with virtues.” He cautioned them to not mistake money and success—the means of living—with the object of life and encouraged them to read DuBois and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Before his lecture, Dr. Martin spent time in Marshall McCurties’ U.S. history class and with the African American Support Committee. He also had lunch with students from the African American Mentor Program.
Dr. Martin allowed us to tape his presentation. Watch it here: