The University of South Carolina honors the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther
King Jr. with an annual series of service-focused activities and events.
The University of South Carolina began honoring the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
three years before his birthdate was declared a federal holiday by President Ronald
Reagan and 14 years before then-Governor Jim Hodges signed the holiday into law across
the state of South Carolina.
Honoring a Civil Rights Leader
In January 1983, the university's Black Alumni Caucus sponsored the first university
program. The group continued to sponsor the event, held in Rutledge Chapel, until
1986. In 1986, the program was expanded and moved to the Russell House Ballroom featuring
King’s daughter, Yolanda King, as keynote speaker. In 1999 then-President John M.
Palms canceled classes and declared the day a university-wide day of service. That
tradition continues today.
Days of Service and Reflection
More than 30 years later the Rutledge Chapel service has grown into a major university
tradition with a wide-ranging week of activities. In recent years, the celebration
included the university’s annual Social Justice Awards; a film screening and panel
discussion; a commemorative breakfast; a day of community-based service; and, a fine
arts-centered celebration. Various university programs and offices complement the
university’s commemoration with a variety of events in connection with the MLK holiday.
In the midst of a global pandemic, the university is celebrating the MLK holiday with
a new slate of virtual events and an extended timeline that also kicks off Black History
Applying 2020 Vision in 2021: A Clear View of Our Community’s Pursuit Towards MLK’s
Dream and the Existing Challenges
Please join the Honorable Matthew J. Perry, Jr. chapter of the National Black Law
Students Association virtually at 6 p.m. Thursday, January 14, 2021 for this forum
that will engage in a powerful discussion on the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr.
had for our community and our journey towards achieving that dream. Through this dialogue
we will consider the progress that we have made as a community, areas where we are
still struggling, and recognize the power of our individual voices in evoking change.
For this discussion we will be joined by a diverse panel of social justice professionals
who will reflect on the current needs of our community, the continued pursuit for
social equity, provide educational resources, and identify opportunities to become
involved. Register to attend.
Brandon Adams, UofSC BLSA President
Jasmine Caruthers, BLSA member
Moe Brown, former Democratic nominee for South Carolina's 5th Congressional District
Lyric Swinton, co-founder and Director of Engagement of Secure the Ballot, project
associate at Full Circle Strategies, LLC, and Director of Diversity & Inclusion at
SC Women In Leadership
Taylor Wright, special assistant to Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin
Students, join hands with your Carolina community to honor Dr. King’s life and to
work together to help others.
9 a.m. – noon (check-in starts at 8 a.m.)
Location: Davis Field
The Legacy of Richard Greener in Song Virtual Concert, Live Discussion and Q&A
The UofSC School of Music is joining the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
in a month-long observation of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday via a series of
virtual events. At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, Michael Harley will be airing excerpts
from a live campus performance of Jeff Scott’s “A Pioneer’s Opus” and Valerie Coleman’s
“Glory” from the Southern Exposure concert series. These new works were inspired by the life and writings of Richard
Greener, UofSC’s first African American professor. After the virtual concert, composer
Jeff Scott (Imani Winds) and featured baritone from “Glory,” Columbia’s Kendrick Williams will take part in a live discussion with School of Music professors Michael Harley
and Birgitta Johnson about the legacy of Richard Greener, the role of African Americans
in modern classical music, and the ways in which social justice themes have been a
part of Black artists’ legacies in the classical music field. The discussion will
include include a Q&A session with virtual audience members.
This event is free but participants must register by Wednesday, Jan. 27.
Brighter Beginnings Virtual Concert, Live Discussion and Q&A
Brighter Beginnings is creating a 30-minute classic show band concert that will pay
tribute to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and show its impact among young
activists' movements of today. The 30-minute virtual concert will begin at 6 p.m.
and will be followed by a 25-minute live discussion and Q&A session on the continued
role of Black music in freedom movements in America.
One highlight of the week is the announcement of the university's annual Social Justice
Awards. The awards recognize individuals who exemplify the philosophies of King through
random or ongoing acts of community service, social justice or racial reconciliation.
The following recipients were nominated and recognized by their peers as leaders in
Cooke is the Augusta Baker endowed chair in the School of Information Science. In
a field where more than 85 percent of the professionals are white women, Cooke stands
out. And that observation inspired her desire to help diversify the field of librarians
to make the profession more equitable and better reflective of the communities librarians
serve. Cooke is a leader on campus through her research and classes focusing on diversity
and social justice, with a goal to develop a cadre of people who can go out and do
social justice work and bring others along on the journey.
Toby S. Jenkins
Jenkins, associate professor and director of the Museum of Education, grew up in Columbia
and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina, before
leaving her hometown for universities and experiences all around the globe. At every
stop, she was an advocate for diversity in higher education, for forging inclusive
communities and for making sure college students find a welcoming home on campuses. She
is considered a national expert on cultural inclusion and the student experience in
higher education, focusing particularly on the innovation and transformation of university
Urich, Gamecock football student-athlete, carried a sign proclaiming "'Matter' is
the Minimum" at the Black Lives Matter protests in Columbia in the summer of 2020.
It was a moment that united people across the state, including the rival football
teams of South Carolina and Clemson. And it’s a moment Urich has built on since then,
including starting a nonprofit, Original Design, which aims to provide resources,
opportunities and supportive relationships to help underserved children around the
state. The organization plans to offer camps for 10- to 12-year-olds that focus on
faith, public health and sports, with the goal to help children live healthy, honorable