This April marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and frontrunner for the American Civil Rights movement. While he is most known for his “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963, he also delivered speeches in Charleston and Kingstree, and visited Gantt Cottage in St. Helena to both rest and strategize at the Penn Center for the Civil Rights Movement.
The University of South Carolina has been celebrating King’s contributions to the civil rights movement for 35 years, three years before his birthday was declared a national holiday by Ronald Reagan. Beginning in 1983, the USC Black Alumni Caucus held the first ceremony commemorating the life of MLK, and in 1986 King’s daughter, Yolanda King, spoke in the Russell House Ballroom for the celebration.
This year’s MLK Celebration begins on Tuesday, with a food drive benefiting the Gamecock Pantry. This is the fifth year of a food drive that continues King’s ideas of helping others while simultaneously getting students involved.
On Thursday, the Black Law Students Association will be screening “Rikers: An American Jail.” This event will not only involve the film screening, but also a forum hosted in the Honorable J. Karen Williams Courtroom discussing the effects of incarceration and its corruption.
The Martin Luther King Social Justice Awards are handed out annually to faculty, staff and students who embody King’s legacy through participating in service and social justice. The recipients this year are School of Journalism and Mass Communications faculty member Kenneth Campbell, education student Daizha Green, School of Library and Information Sciences staff member Sarah Keeling and clinical assistant professor and MAT coordinator for the School of Education Michele Myers. These awards will be presented during the commemorative breakfast on Friday.
The MLK Commemorative Breakfast will be a ticketed event on Friday morning at The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium. This breakfast features the Touch of Faith gospel singers and will conclude with the presentation of the 2018 Martin Luther King Social Justice Awards. The keynote address will come from the first African-American student to be admitted to the university, Henrie Monteith Treadwell.
A unique Service Saturday will be held in King’s honor this coming Saturday. Hosted by the Leadership and Service Center, the check-in will be located on Davis Field. Many universities throughout the country come together to serve their local communities in honor of King during this weekend. Through Service Saturday and the MLK celebrations, students are able to serve their community while remembering King’s legacy.
This week's five events honoring King culminates in Sunday’s "Freedom Rings: An artistic celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr." at the Koger Center for the Arts. This will be a celebration featuring music groups from surrounding areas along with the Columbia City Ballet.
This week of celebration continues the USC tradition of commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and kicks off the spring semester with service and remembrance.