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Parents of Alumni

SPOTLIGHT on... Tayna Longino P'17 '18 '21

Tayna Longino is a



Thank you, Rabbi Levin for your gracious introduction. Let me give thanks to my friends Jerel and Shari Wohl for sharing my name with Rabbi Levin and your congregation. It is an honor to be with you this evening and to share a little about myself and the meaning of Dr. King’s Legacy to me.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a transformative figure in American history, whose impact on civil rights and social justice continues to resonate today. This weekend, as we reflect on his life and legacy, it's essential to recognize the profound contributions he made to the fight against racial inequality and injustice.

We know, Dr. King was a charismatic and an inspirational leader to many, like all of us, had his flaws, However, his commitment to nonviolent protest and his unwavering dedication to equality made him a beacon of hope for millions of people striving for a more just society.

One of Dr. King's most memorable moments was his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech delivered during the March on Washington in 1963. In this powerful address, he eloquently articulated his vision of a nation where individuals are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This speech remains a timeless call for unity, equality, and justice.

Beyond his eloquence, Dr. King was a tireless advocate for change. He led and participated in numerous protests, marches, and boycotts, challenging discriminatory laws and practices. His efforts were instrumental in the passage of significant civil rights legislation.

However, Dr. King's impact extends beyond legislative achievements. His legacy has inspired generations of activists and leaders to continue the fight for justice, equality, and human rights. His teachings on nonviolence, love, and compassion remain powerful guiding principles for those striving to create a more inclusive and equitable society. These are principles modeled for me by my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.  I was fortunate to have each of them pour into me from day of my birth. They set examples that were not performative, but deeply rooted in responsibility for your neighbor, your community, and for those whose voices were silenced. You see, my early remembrances of service began in my church and in my community.  I stacked cans in the church and community food pantries, stuffed envelopes during elections, and cleaned up the neighborhood park.  Every Saturday, my grandfather, a Deacon in our church, visited the “sick and the shut-in.” I don’t recall ever being asked if I wanted to join him…. It was just what he and I did… I saw it as our time together carrying a cake, pie or meal made by my grandmother or mother for whomever we were visiting. I didn’t realize at the time, but these are the experiences that shaped and grounded me…to care for and have concern for others.  Stuffing envelopes during election time was more than just getting menial tasks done…it was listening to community issues, hearing the cries of a mother who walked into the center seeking assistance to pay her electric bill, or feed her children or the parent who needed warm clothes for their family. These were my early lessons!

When I left home for college, I developed my own interests and discovered my own voice for causes and activism.  While I did not depart from the values sewn into me by my parents. I joined service organizations that closely aligned to my personal interests -Education, Health, Civic Engagement, and social Justice. When it was time to declare my major, I decided on Public Policy and Business Administration. Intuitively I knew I wanted a career where I would advocate for policies that would positively impact lives. So, I found myself in a career where I could marry both my personal and professional passions. As an HR professional for several decades now, I have been privy to an evolving and fulfilling practice. Still helping people, looking at policies and practices through a lens of equity for all.  

Thirty-one years ago, I married my childhood sweetheart, and we were gifted 3 amazing children. Evan-Eric 25, Mykal-Michele 24, and Jordan Andrew 21. The principles and values I shared with you this evening; we have done our best to model the same for them.  While, they have always joined us in celebrating Dr. King’s Holiday and weekend events of service, they are all keenly aware of their responsibility to their community every day and not just a weekend in January. Our goal was to instill in them the principles of Civility-Love, Kindness, and Respect!

We believe, if we can lead with those virtues then we can sit with each other, break bread together, talk through our differences, be willing to change narratives and assumptions we’ve learned over time, and listen to each other for understanding and not for the purpose of debate…it is then we can collectively advocate for the rights of everyone.

You have likely heard of Dr. King concept of the "Beloved Community." This was his vision for a just and equitable society. The Beloved Community, was not just a utopian ideal but a practical philosophy that aimed at creating a world where all individuals lived together in harmony, embracing love, understanding, and justice.

At the core of the Beloved Community was the idea that all people are interconnected and interdependent. Dr. King believed that true social change could only be achieved through nonviolent means and by fostering a sense of community that transcended racial, economic, and social divisions. He envisioned a society where individuals, regardless of their background, treated each other with respect and dignity. As a guiding principle of the Beloved Community, Dr. King emphasized the power of love and compassion in addressing social issues. He argued that hatred and violence only perpetuated a cycle of injustice, and true transformation could only come through understanding, empathy, and reconciliation.

While the Beloved Community may still be a work in progress, Dr. King's vision remains a powerful and inspiring call to action. It challenges us to reflect on our individual and collective responsibilities in creating a society where love triumphs over hatred, understanding triumphs over ignorance, and justice triumphs over injustice. Embracing the principles of the Beloved Community is not only a way to honor Dr. King's legacy but also a pathway toward a more compassionate and harmonious world.

As many of us spend this weekend honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us not only remember the historical figure but also embrace the values he stood for. Let his legacy be a constant reminder that the pursuit of justice and equality is a collective responsibility that requires our ongoing commitment and action. Dr. King's dream of a truly just and united nation is a vision worth pursuing, and each of us has a role to play, like myself, my husband, Eric and our 3 children, Evan, Mykal, and Jordan.

Thank you again for your invitation and your hospitality. It has been my pleasure to share with you a little about myself and how Dr. King resonates within me!



The Germantown Academy Parents of Alumni Council is an active group of former parents that sponsors events throughout the year. CLICK HERE to get in touch with Chair Cheryl Ross 1760 and let her know you want to get involved.