UofSC Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium
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.
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, and that tradition
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.
Previous Social Justice Award Winners
Cooke is the Augusta Baker endowed chair in the School of Information Science. In
a field where more than 85 percent of the professionals are white women, Cooke stands
out. And that observation inspired her desire to help diversify the field of librarians
to make the profession more equitable and better reflective of the communities librarians
serve. Cooke is a leader on campus through her research and classes focusing on diversity
and social justice, with a goal to develop a cadre of people who can go out and do
social justice work and bring others along on the journey.
Toby S. Jenkins
Jenkins, associate professor and director of the Museum of Education, grew up in Columbia
and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina, before
leaving her hometown for universities and experiences all around the globe. At every
stop, she was an advocate for diversity in higher education, for forging inclusive
communities and for making sure college students find a welcoming home on campuses. She
is considered a national expert on cultural inclusion and the student experience in
higher education, focusing particularly on the innovation and transformation of university
Urich, Gamecock football student-athlete, carried a sign proclaiming "'Matter' is
the Minimum" at the Black Lives Matter protests in Columbia in the summer of 2020.
It was a moment that united people across the state, including the rival football
teams of South Carolina and Clemson. And it’s a moment Urich has built on since then,
including starting a nonprofit, Original Design, which aims to provide resources,
opportunities and supportive relationships to help underserved children around the
state. The organization plans to offer camps for 10- to 12-year-olds that focus on
faith, public health and sports, with the goal to help children live healthy, honorable
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
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