Young Men of Color Symposium

Parker Students Attended Symposium With Keynote Speaker Rodney Glasgow

Symposium attendees stand in the courtyard

Photo credit: Nick Saracino

Symposium attendees stand in the courtyard

Rodney Glasgow walked on to the auditorium stage in a bright yellow blazer. He stood center at the mic and took off his mask, something not uncommon these days when a presenter speaks on stage and is separated from the group they are presenting to. But next, he took off his shoes, and then his socks. Glasgow explained that when Moses was greeted by a burning bush in the Bible, the first thing God said to him was, “Remove your shoes because you’re standing on holy ground.” 

Glasglow said “the opportunity to share my story is one of the holiest things that could be happening.”  

Glasgow spoke in Parker’s auditorium on Friday, November 5 for all Middle and Upper School students, and then served as the keynote speaker for the Cullen J Davis Young Men of Color Symposium. The Symposium was held Saturday, November 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for 90 students from 16 schools. The email sent out to Parker stated that, “The Young Men of Color Symposium hosted by Francis W. Parker School is a leadership conference for self-identified men of color who attend independent schools in 6th–12th grades.” The event was expected to “feature opportunities for participants to explore their multiple identities and learn skills geared towards self-advocacy and community building.” 

As Glasgow looked out to Parker’s Middle School students seated in the auditorium, as well as to the Upper School via Zoom camera, he stated, “We don’t have to teach critical race theory because we live it.” Glasgow is the current Head of School at Sandy Spring Friends School “a progressive, coed, college preparatory school Quaker school.” Glasgow has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and African American Studies from Harvard University, a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Columbia University Klingenstein Center, and a Doctorate of Education degree from George Washington University.  

Junior Evan Sato is currently a head of Parker’s Men Of Color Heritage Affinity (MOCHA) group. Sato attended both the MX and the full symposium on Saturday, where after hearing Rodney Glasgow speak, they went into grade level groups. Adult chaperones were separated to discuss advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion work in their own schools.

After they had a lunch break, everyone attending was split into affinity groups based on race. “I was in a room with people who share similar experiences as me,” Sato said. “It felt really powerful to share our experiences, especially ones that I thought were only specific to me but in reality were common amongst the group I was in.” 

Junior Elias Acevedo is another of four MOCHA heads. He attended both the MX and the Symposium. Glasgow’s speech stuck out to him throughout the experience. “I really loved the speaker,” Acevedo said. “I thought he was a great storyteller, and I loved how he brought in the struggle of being a child on the fence between two different lives. I found his speech not only interesting, but really inspiring.”