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Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

2019 MLK Commemorative Weekend

The University of South Carolina hosted the 36th annual celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a film screening and panel discussion, a community breakfast and a performing arts show. 

The university’s School of Law kicked off the festivities with the “Black Women on the front lines of freedom” event. The Honorable Matthew J. Perry Chapter of the National Black Law Student Association hosted the screening of a documentary, “I Am Somebody,” on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Honorable Karen J. Williams Courtroom in the School of Law. The documentary centers on Coretta Scott King and the hospital workers strike in Charleston in 1969. Following the documentary, the panel featured Jaribu Hill, a judge, human rights attorney and executive director of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights; Gicola Lane, a community advocate, organizer and leader of a non-profit to assist low-income Nashville citizens with bail; and Louise Brown, one of the 12 former nurse assistants that initiated the Charleston Hospital Workers Strike. School of Law graduate Lashawnda Woods-Roberts with the South Carolina Appleseed Justice Center moderated the panel.  

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative breakfast was held at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, in “The Zone” at Williams-Brice Stadium. Delivering the keynote address was Zenith Houston, ’91 B.A. criminal justice, ’96 M.A. criminal justice, who is the director of The Posse Foundation in Atlanta. The Posse Foundation, which began in 1989, identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Prior to joining The Posse Foundation, Houston was the Regional Development Director in Chicago for National Jewish Health, an academic and medical center based in Denver, Colorado specializing in respiratory, cardiac, immune and allergic disorders. Houston also completed the Executive Education Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management at Harvard Business School. The 2019 Social Justice Awards were presented during the breakfast. The 2019 winners are: Dr. Rajeev Bais, an infectious disease expert, is the founder of the Carolina Survivor Clinic, which serves the long-term needs of resettled refugees in the Columbia metro area. The clinic provides health care, English-language instruction for adults, tutoring and soccer programs for youth, and a therapeutic garden. About 400 student volunteers serve at the clinic. Maureen Grewe, director of student conduct, has taught University 101 since 2011. She is involved in the Junior League of Columbia, a nonprofit that focuses on the development of women, volunteerism and strengthening the health and well-being of children and families in the Midlands. Chelsea Jimenez, a senior in the College of Education’s early childhood program, is interested in pedagogies focused on equity, cultural relevance and anti-racism. Last year, she won first place in the education category at the annual Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel conference for her research on teaching young African-American students how to code-switch. Lyric Swinton, a junior in the College of Hospitality and Sport Management, is a first-generation college student and the first-ever secretary of inclusion and equity in student government. She was the only undergraduate speaker at the inaugural TEDxUofSC event in October 2018..

Commemorative events concluded on Sunday, Jan. 20, with the annual Freedom Rings performance in the Booker T. Washington Auditorium. The event included excerpts from King’s “The Beloved Community” speech and performances by the university's gospel choir A Touch of Faith, gospel recording artist John Lakin, Christian rap artist Big Redd and additional celebrations of music and theater. Local young artists Jasmine Johnson and Just Us will also perform.

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