Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Celebration

The University of South Carolina honors the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of service-focused activities and events beginning Jan. 17, 2019.

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 USC 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 under the leadership of President Harris Pastides. 

A Week 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, including a commemorative breakfast, a day of service, and the university’s Social Justice Awards. Various university programs and offices complement the university’s commemoration with a variety of events in connection with the MLK holiday. Tickets to each event are currently available for purchase and must be purchased in advance.

Jan. 17 — BLSA screening and forum

When: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 at 6 p.m.
Where: Karen J. Williams Courtroom

The Honorable Matthew J. Perry Chapter of the National Black Law Student Association will host the screening of a documentary, “I Am Somebody,” which centers on Coretta Scott King and the hospital workers strike in Charleston, SC in 1969. Following the documentary, there will be a panel discussion featuring 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 will moderate the panel. The event is free and open to the public.

Jan. 18 — MLK Commemorative Breakfast

When: Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 at 7:30 a.m.
Where: The Zone at Williams-Brice

Tickets available (Note: No ticket sales available at the door. All tickets must be purchased in advance through the online system)

Delivering the keynote address is 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 annual Social Justice awards will also be awarded during the breakfast. See this year's winners below.

Parking will be available in lots A, B and C off of George Rogers Boulevard. Shuttles will also run from campus to the stadium.

Shuttle Locations and Pick-Up Times

Bus Number Pick-Up Location Pick-Up Time

Bus 1

6:50 a.m.

743 Green Street

7 a.m.

AD3 (B-lot)

7:05 a.m.

Discovery Garage

7:10 a.m.

Park Place

7:15 a.m.

Greek Village

7:30 a.m.

The Zone at Williams Brice Stadium

Bus 2

6:50 a.m.

Nursing

7 a.m.

Byrnes

7:05 a.m.

Honors College

7:10 a.m.

West Quad

7:30 a.m.

The Zone at Williams Brice Stadium

Bus 3

6:50 a.m.

Korn

7 a.m.

1600 Hampton

7:05 a.m.

AD7 Lot

7:10 a.m.

Bates House

7:30 a.m.

The Zone at Williams Brice Stadium

Bus 4

6:50 a.m.

NAC

7 a.m.

Pendelton Garage

7:05 a.m.

RHUU @ Bull Street

7:10 a.m.

Swearingen Engineering

7:15 a.m.

Aspyre

7:30 a.m.

The Zone at Williams Brice Stadium

Jan. 19 — MLK Day of Service

When: Saturday., Jan. 19, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Where: Check-in located at Davis Field (by the reflecting pool in front of Thomas Cooper Library.)

Organized by the Leadership and Service Center, this day of service is one of many across the United States. Join with fellow students to serve others in your community from 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

Jan 20 — Freedom Rings

When: Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019 at 6 p.m.
Where: Booker T. Washington Auditorium

Tickets available (Note: No ticket sales available at the door. All tickets must be purchased in advance through the online system)

Emceed by Tre Tailor and Wally "Famous" Amos, this year’s event includes excerpts from King’s “The Beloved Community” speech and performances by UofSC’s gospel choir A Touch of Faith, gospel recording artist John Lakin, Christian rap artist Big Redd, spoken word artist The Watering Hole, local young artists Jasmine Johnson and Just Us, as well as UofSC students, poet Micah Charles and vocalist Alex Thompson. 

Doors for the show open at 5 p.m. and the show begins at 6 p.m. Tickets for Freedom Rings are $10 for faculty, staff and the public.


 

2019 Social Justice Awards

One highlight of the week is the announcement of the university's annual Social Justice Awards during the MLK Commemorative Breakfast. The awards recognize individuals who exemplify the philosophies of King through random or ongoing acts of community service, social justice or racial reconciliation. In 2019, the following recipients were nominated and recognized by their peers as leaders in social justice.

Dr. Rajeev Bais

Dr. Rajeev Bais

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

Maureen Grewe

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

Chelsea Jimenez

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

Lyric Swinton

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.