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Office of Diversity and Inclusion

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. 16, 2020.

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 Bob Caslen.

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. 

In recent years, the occurrence of the criminalization of Black girls in schools has become more apparent. During this year’s National Black Law Student Association forum, we will explore - A Dream Deferred: How the Criminalization of African American Girls Impedes MLK’s Dream - through a showing of the documentary “Pushout” by Monique Morris, Ed.D., and panel discussion with experts in all facets of education discussing implementation and prevention in our public-school system. 
Thursday, January 16, 2020, at 6 p.m. with a reception starting at 5 p.m. 
Karen J. Williams Courtroom

The keynote speaker is Rick Wade, ’84 B.S. biology, who is the vice president of strategic alliances and outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Friday, January 17, 2020, at 7:30 a.m. Doors open at 7 a.m.
Russell House Ballroom 
Tickets are $10 for faculty, staff and the public. 

Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

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.

Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, at 6 p.m. with a VIP reception beginning at 5 p.m. 
Booker T. Washington Auditorium
VIP Tickets $25 and tickets for f
aculty, staff and the public are $10.


Previous Social Justice Award Winners

Faculty Winner - Dr. Rajeev Bais
Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
School of Medicine
Director, Carolina Survivor Clinic

Staff Winner - Maureen Grewe
Director of Student Conduct
Department of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity

Student Winner - Chelsea Jimenez
Undergraduate student
Senior majoring in early childhood education

Student Winner - Lyric Swinton
Undergraduate student
Junior majoring in sport and entertainment management

Faculty Winner - Kenneth Campbell, M.S., Ph.D.
Associate professor
School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Faculty Winner - Michele Myers, M.S., Ed.S., Ph.D.
Clinical Associate Professor
College of Education 

Staff Winner - Sarah Keeling, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Student Services Manager
School of Library and Information Science

Student Winner - Dizha Green
Undergraduate student
Senior majoring in early childhood education 

Faculty Winner - Ed Madden
Director, Women's and Gender Studies

Staff Winner - Bobby Gist
Executive Assistant to the president
Equal Opportunity Programs

Student Winner - Jonathan Keefe
Undergraduate student
Senior majoring in psychology
Director, Gamecock Panry

Faculty Winner - Bobby Donaldson
Associate Professor
Faculty Principal Preston Residential College

Faculty Winner - Lemuel Watson
College of Education

Staff Winner - Thelathia Barnes Bailey
Director, TRIO USC-Lancaster

Student Winner - Alysha Baratta
Graduate student in geography

Faculty Award - Jane Brewer
Associate dean for student services

Staff Award - Jim Glasson
Human services specialist

Student Award - Kim Cunningham
Graduate, USC-Lancaster

Community Member - Bob Coble
Columbia Mayor

Faculty Award - Gloria Boutte, M.S., Ph.D.
Yvonne and Schuyler Moore Child Advocacy Distinguished Chair of Early Childhood
College of Education, Department of Instruction and Teacher Education

Staff Award - Thomas L. Stepp
Former secretary of the Board of Trustees

Student Award - Alex Rutherfod
Undergraduate student
Junior majoring in history

Faculty Winner - Sacoby M. Wilson, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Arnold School of Public Health

Dr. Patricia Wilson-Witherspoon
Medical Director, Department of Family Medicine
School of Medicine

Staff Winner - Andrea Williams
Associate Director, Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities
Arnold School of Public Health

Student Winner - India D. Rose
Ph.D. candidate, Arnold School of Public Health

Faculty Award - Saundra Glover, M.B.A., Ph.D.
Associate Dean
Arnold School of Public Health 

Staff Award - Pamela Robinson, J.D.
Director Pro Bono Program
School of Law

Student Award - Anna Walton
Undergraduate student
Senior majoring in biology and Spanish

Student Award - Jelani Kerr
Ph.D. candidate
Arnold School of Public Health

Faculty Winner - Thorne Compton
Associate Director
Institute for Southern Studies

Cheryl Soehl 

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