A number of speakers will be featured on Friday. Scholars will include Dr. Joyce Ann Lander, civil-rights activist, writer and sociologist; Dr. Robert B. Hill, a sociologist and a retired senior researcher at Westat; Dorthy Smith-Ruiz, associate professor in Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Dr. Patricia Stone-Motes, a clinical community psychology at Clemson University; and Kharimah Dessow, a Carolina graduate who was awarded a Magellan research grant as a senior in 2009 to conduct research on Billingsley’s career.
Also featured on Friday will be J.T. McLawhorn, executive director of the Columbia Urban League, and the Rev. Kenneth Hodges, S.C. state representative and pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort.
A native of Birmingham, Billingsley earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Grinnell College, master’s degrees in social service from Boston University and sociology from the University of Michigan and his doctoral degree in social service from Brandeis University. He was a faculty member and administrator at the University of California at Berkeley and vice president of academic affairs at Howard University before serving as president of Morgan State University in Baltimore from 1975 – 84.
Billingsley returned to teaching and research at the University of Maryland and served as a visiting professor at Spelman College before joining the University of South Carolina in 1996.
A prolific author, he has written numerous books, including the seminal work, “Black Families in White America,” as well as “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: The Enduring Legacy of African American Families,” “Children of the Storm,” “Mighty Like a River: The Black Church and Social Reform,” and his recent book, “Yearning to Breathe Free: Robert Smalls of South Carolina and His Families.”
Sponsors of the two-day celebration include the University of South Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences, African American Studies Program, Institute for Families in Society and the department of sociology and Brookland Baptist Church.
For more information call USC’s African American Studies Program at 803-777-7248 or visit the web site: www.cas.sc.edu/afra.