January events mark Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy

USC plans several ways to honor and spotlight the civil-rights icon

The University of South Carolina will host a series of public events in commemoration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. from Jan. 12 through Jan. 15.

This year marks the 34th year for the university’s annual celebration to honor the civil rights leader. The 2017 commemoration will include a panel discussion, a community breakfast and gospel music performance.

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Martin Luther King, Jr., at the 1963 March on Washington, site of his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. (Archival photo)

The university’s School of Law will open the festivities with a panel discussion Thursday, Jan. 12. Titled “Fulfilling Dr. King’s Call for Justice, Unity and Equality for All,” the panel will take place at 6 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.

The panel will feature Jean Toal, former chief justice of the S.C. Supreme Court and university law graduate; Sen. Darrell Jackson, a state senator representing Richland County and senior pastor of Bible Way Church of Atlas Road; Joel Lourie, a retired state senator and president of Lourie Consulting; and Bobby Donaldson, history professor and director of the university’s Center for Civil Rights History & Research. WIS-TV news anchor Judi Gatson will moderate. The event is free and open to the public and includes a reception after.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration breakfast is set for 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 13, in “The Zone” at Williams-Brice Stadium. The guest speaker is Rev. Ronnie Elijah Brailsford Sr., a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Brailsford, a 1980 Carolina graduate, was a longtime pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church of Columbia before being named an A.M.E. bishop in November. He presides over the 20th Episcopal District in Africa, which comprises nearly 200 churches.

At the breakfast, the university will present its annual Social Justice Awards to faculty, staff and students who have worked to promote equality and justice. Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. Tickets cost $5 for students and $10 for faculty, staff and the public, and are available at the university’s Koger Center for the Arts box office, at 806 Park St.

Free parking will be available in Lot B next to the stadium, which is accessible off Key Road.

Commemoration events conclude Sunday, Jan. 15 with the annual MLK Jr. Gospel Festival. This year’s gospel music groups include The Williams Brothers, a nationally known traditional gospel group from Jackson, Mississippi; Roy & Revelation, a young male ensemble that combines new and old gospel traditions; Voices, a gospel choir from New Light Baptist Church of Hopkins; and, Beverly Taylor, a local gospel artist from Batesburg-Leesville.

Doors for the concert open at 5 p.m. and the concert begins at 6 p.m. Tickets for the MLK Jr. Gospel Festival are $8 for students and $12 for faculty, staff and the public and also available at Koger Center’s box office. Free parking will be available in the Discovery Garage, across from the Koger Center.

Prior to the MLK commemorative events, the History Center, part of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, will continue its focus on the legacy of Reconstruction with public screenings of films by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson.

The first film in the series, “Soldiers without Swords: The Black Press,” will be screened at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications auditorium. Journalism professor Ken Campbell will introduce the film, which is free and open to the public.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Columbia, Education, Local News, Local Voices, Richland County

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