Essay by Marcus Kershaw (MMFS Class of ’23)

December 05, 2023

Marcus Kershaw (’23) wrote an essay for a college class that he would like to share with the MMFS community. Although Marcus was only an MMFS student for three years, he made a lasting impression, particularly with his dedication and work in our BIPOC student affinity group and Black Student Union. Marcus currently attends McDaniels College in Westminster, Maryland where he is considering a major in business administration.

It Is Okay To Feel Different

In high school, I was quiet, had a good GPA, and played basketball. After the pandemic when school reopened, I helped create the Black Student Union at Mary McDowell Friends School. The first event I came up with was the Success in the Black Community of our School bulletin board which had peoples’ pictures, their interests, and successes posted. This was created for Black History Month, and a good amount of people did that project. At the end of the year, I helped organize the Students of Color Affinity Group Barbecue hosted by the Black Student Union. We got Kente-cloth stoles to wear over our robes for graduation. We were the first class to ever get that and hopefully, ours will not be the last class to do that. I am happy knowing that I was a part of bringing the Black Student Union together and I am grateful for the people who believed in the right that we were doing. I am forever grateful for that.  

When I was 8 years old, I remember the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. When I was younger, I was a part of the NAACP local chapter in my hometown Lakeview, New York. I went out protesting with Skittles because that is what Trayvon was getting from the store before he was shot. I was afraid because even at my young age, I knew wearing a hoodie might make me a target for no reason. When I was 9 years old, we sat at my grandma’s house to see George Zimmerman being found not guilty, and people in my household were extremely upset and angry because of the result. When I was 10 years old, I saw the killing and strangulation of Eric Garner on TV. 

When I was 15, I watched the movie When They See Us about the Central Park Five (now known as the Exonerated Five). I could not even finish the movie because of how upset I was. When I was 16 years old, I saw the death of George Floyd on Instagram and once again I protested in my town. Derek Chauvin was found guilty, and I felt in that case we won, but still much more work had to be done. 

When I was 17 years old, I got my license and was driving on the Cross Island Parkway with my brother while a police officer was following us in congested traffic flow. I was panicking even though I did nothing wrong, and we were in a standstill traffic pattern. I just did not want to end up like George, Trayvon, Eric, or the Exonerated Five. I wanted to be alive for my parents and family. To get my first car, my first house, hopefully marry, and have kids. I did not want my parents to take flowers to my grave every April 9 on my birthday because I was not there with them.  

I felt the impact of tragically and wrongfully losing these members of the Black community. I felt all this anger that had been building, and I wanted this space for Black students and Black staff members to gather together and set up events. A safe community to forget the negativity in the world, the negative situations witnessed in our lives, and to be cool with each other. I want this to be tied to making a difference in this world, having uncomfortable conversations, and wanting other races to back us. We should all accept each other from other races because it costs nothing to be nice to others. Racism is not good for us as a society, but if we take time to understand each other, sometime we will be free at last from racism. 


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