Andrew Young to open USCís 50th anniversary of desegregation commemoration
By Peggy Binette, email@example.com, 803-777-7704
On Sept. 11, 1963, the University of South Carolina quietly ended its era of segregation when Robert G. Anderson, James L. Solomon and Henrie Monteith stepped out of the Osborne Administration Building as the university’s first African-American students since Reconstruction.
Fifty years later the university will mark the anniversary of I-Day (integration day) and embark on a yearlong commemoration of its desegregation Wednesday, Sept. 11, with a special presentation by former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young at the Koger Center for the Arts.
Young’s presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. At the evening event, Solomon and Monteith (now Treadwell) will be honored, and Anderson, who died in 2009, remembered.
Young, known for his leadership for civil and human rights, served in public office for more than four decades. In 1972 he was elected to the U.S. Congress, the first African-American from the Deep South since Reconstruction. Five years later, he was tapped by then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a post he held until 1981 when he was elected the mayor of Atlanta.
For more than a decade after his public career, Young worked with GoodWorks International on sustainable economic development in the Caribbean and Africa. His awards and honors are numerous, including more than 100 honorary degrees from universities and colleges and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Carter.
His Emmy-nominated and nationally syndicated series “Andrew Young Presents” is seen in nearly 100 television markets around the world. The Andrew Young Foundation is dedicated to documenting, preserving and interpreting his legacy of leadership to end racism, war and poverty for current and future leaders. As an author, his books include “A Way Out of No Way,” “An Easy Burden” and “Walk in My Shoes.”
Earlier on Sept. 11, Solomon and Treadwell will retrace their steps with their families through a series of events on campus, including remarks and a garden groundbreaking at USC’s Osborne Administration Building at 10 a.m. The public is welcome to attend.
Solomon, who lives in Columbia, is chairman of the Palmetto Development Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating poverty in South Carolina. Treadwell is a senior social scientist and associate director of development in the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
"The University of South Carolina changed forever for the better in dramatic fashion on Sept. 11, 1963, thanks to the patience, courage and dedication of the three individuals whose role we recognize through this anniversary commemoration,” said Lacy Ford, a vice provost and co-chair of the university’s planning committee for the event and commemoration. “Nothing we could plan would be a fully adequate tribute, but our committee believes that the morning ceremony and the evening discussion remember the occasion with an appropriate balance of appreciation, reflection and rededication."
The public is invited to participate in USC’s year observance “Embracing Change, Fulfilling the Dream: Commemorating 50 Years of USC Desegregation.”
Valinda Littlefield, director of African American Studies and co-chair with Ford, says the commemoration is intended to foster a public discussion about equality and access to education.
“Although America has experienced centuries of conflict over access to a quality education, there is still unfinished business based on some of the same issues faced by the nation during its inception,” Littlefield said. “Access to education has always been the force that unites and divides. Segregated school systems in 1963 were very much a part of a system that determined where one attended school and how much education one received based on race. The struggle to break down such barriers, which still include race, class, gender and ethnicity, is a long process and Anderson, Solomon and Monteith-Treadwell, along with numerous other brave souls, became pioneers to foster a more democratic society. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their courage.”
A 50th anniversary committee comprising university alumni, faculty, staff and students have organized a variety of commemoration events for the campus and community.
They include exhibits at McKissick Museum and South Caroliniana Library, a lecture by USC poet Nikky Finney, a gospel concert and a dance performance by the famous Alvin Ailey II. Panel discussions with alumni and current students as well as a symposium on issues of access to education will be held in the spring. The year of commemoration will end mid-April with a dedication of a garden beside the Osborne Administration Building and an evening of original works by USC’s School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance at the Koger Center.
As part of the commemoration, USC has launched a website devoted to the commemoration. It features biographical information, historical photos, oral histories, feature stories and a calendar of events. Additional events will be added throughout the year, and alumni and others will be able to contribute their remembrances on the website.
For more information about Andrew Young or USC’s commemoration of its 50th anniversary of desegregation contact Jenna Eckel at 803-777-1434 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah Livingston at 803-777-2808 or via email at email@example.com.
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