Thirteen members of Litchfield County's literary and artistic community gathered recently in the Meeting House on the Green at the First Congregational Church to read excerpts of original documents in social justice.

The event was conducted to mark The Gunnery's recognition of the Martin Luther King's anniversary.

This year's annual event, introduced by Head of School Peter W. E. Becker, proved to be a special evening for students, presenters and audience alike.

Assistant Dean of Students Craig Badger, who arranged the program, said in concluding remarks: "This event was held to make our students think about the courage and sacrifice that others have shown throughout history to provide us all with the inalienable rights that our founding documents guarantee us."

Mr. Badger had chosen documents ranging from a slave petitioning for his freedom in a Boston court in 1773 to a 12-year-old girl's plea to a state legislature for recognition of the rights of her non-traditional family in 2009.

The documents were selected from the textbook from Howard Zinn, "Voices of a People's History of the United States."

The readings were interspersed with musical performances by the Gunnery Troubadours, a rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" by Harris Owens '13 and "Stand By Me" sung by Amanda Payne and Ethan Marsh '15, with musical accompaniment by Ethan, Nick Weinstein '14, and Marty Rubin '13.

Guest readers included George Krimsky '60, journalist and author of "Making Freedom," a story about an 18th century Connecticut slave; Davyne Verstandig, president of Northwest Connecticut ACLU, professor at the UConn Torrington branch, poet and author; Allan Madahbee, an Ojibway artist and musician whose work can be seen at the Institute for American Indian Studies; David Owen, a New Yorker staff writer and author of books and essays on education, the environment, golf and others; Kate Baldwin, curator of Education at the Litchfield Historical Society; and Dani Shapiro author of five novels and two best-selling memoirs.

Also reading were George Feifer, historian and author whose book "Girl from Petrovka" was the basis of a Hollywood film; Jack Gilpin, a stage and television actor with appearances on "Law and Order" and "Kate and Allie," and now the pastor at St John's Episcopal Church in New Milford; Hugh Rawson, author and publisher who has collaborated with his wife, Margaret Minor, on four books of quotations; Susan Kinsolving, a poet whose book "Dailies & Rushes" was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Victoria Christgau, director of the Connecticut Center for Non-Violence; Joe Mustich, writer, publicist, producer and social activist; and the Reverend Cheryl Anderson, pastor of the First Congregational Church.

Through Social Justice Week, the Gunnery students aimed to spark a conversation on campus about the world.

"What rights do we have? Who has them? Who is denied them?" Mr. Badger said. "What is our role in providing, denying, fighting for these rights?

"We want our students to engage in the world beyond The Gunnery's walls, and this is one way in which we are attempting to get them to do so."