USC announced in a press conference on Tuesday that it has been gifted $1.5 million from Williams, an energy infrastructure company, to enhance the Center for Civil Rights History and Research.
The center was founded by the university in November of 2015 with the goal of engaging the community, informing civil rights curriculum and making university collections and resources available to students and educators.
“This is not a South Carolina announcement, this center will be a unique gem for the entire United States of America. So we plan on shining the spotlight on the actions of our citizens, those that came before, in the struggle for Civil Rights,” Interim-President Pastides said.
Williams’ gift is a three-year fund for the center and will allow the USC exhibit, Justice for All: South Carolina and the American Civil Rights Movement to be relocated to Booker T. Washington’s High School Auditorium. The exhibit explores South Carolina's role in the Civil Rights movement.
“At Williams, our giving philosophy is to support the communities where our employees live and work and work along with the organizations that they’re involved in and passionate about,” said Scott Hallam, the Senior Vice President of Williams Companies. “One of our core giving focus areas is education. It’s critical that we allow the university to gather Civil Rights stories so that we can learn about each other, our history and to enact positive change.”
Kelly Adams is a Williams employee and a 2001 university alumna that established the connection between the Center and the company.
“There was no hesitation or reservation about why we were supporting such things,” said Adams. “The university means so much to me and for you guys to embark on this work is so meaningful.”
The funding will also aid in the expansion of the oral history of the center with civil rights-era participants sharing their own personal accounts. Bobby Donaldson, the director of the Center for Civil Rights, thanked Williams for its donation and explained how the money will be used.
“Your gift gives us a new platform to use this history. We will use it in training teachers. We will use it in shaping the young minds,” said Donaldson.