USC announces community events to commemorate legacy of MLK

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The University of South Carolina will host a series of public events in commemoration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Jan. 17 – 20.

This year marks the university’s 36th annual celebration to honor the civil rights leader. The 2019 commemoration will include a film screening and panel discussion, a community breakfast and a performing arts show.

The university’s School of Law will open the festivities with the “Black Women on the front lines of freedom” event. The Honorable Matthew J. Perry Chapter of the National Black Law Student Association will host the screening of a documentary, “I Am Somebody,” on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Honorable Karen J. Williams Courtroom in the School of Law. The documentary centers on Coretta Scott King and the hospital workers strike in Charleston, SC in 1969.

Following the documentary, the panel will feature Jaribu Hill, a judge, human rights attorney and executive director of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights; Gicola Lane, a community advocate, organizer and leader of a non-profit to assist low-income Nashville citizens with bail; and Louise Brown, one of the 12 former nurse assistants that initiated the Charleston Hospital Workers Strike. School of Law graduate Lashawnda Woods-Roberts with the South Carolina Appleseed Justice Center will moderate the panel.  The event is free and open to the public.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative breakfast is set for 7:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, in “The Zone” at Williams-Brice Stadium. Delivering the keynote address is Zenith Houston, ’91 B.A. criminal justice, ’96 M.A. criminal justice, who is the director of The Posse Foundation in Atlanta. The Posse Foundation, which began in 1989, identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Prior to joining The Posse Foundation, Houston was the Regional Development Director in Chicago for National Jewish Health, an academic and medical center based in Denver, Colorado specializing in respiratory, cardiac, immune and allergic disorders. Houston also completed the Executive Education Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management at Harvard Business School. The 2019 Social Justice Awards will also be presented during the breakfast. The 2019 winners are: Dr. Rajeev Bais, Maureen Grewe, Chelsea Jimenez and Lyric Swinton.

Doors will open at 7 a.m. Tickets are $10 for faculty, staff and the public. They are available online at

Commemorative events conclude on Sunday, Jan. 20, with the annual Freedom Rings performance in the Booker T. Washington Auditorium. This year’s event, held in partnership with the Auntie Karen Foundation, includes excerpts from King’s “The Beloved Community” speech and performances by USC’s gospel choir A Touch of Faith, gospel recording artist John Lakin, Christian rap artist Big Redd and additional celebrations of music and theater.

Doors for the show open at 5 p.m. and the show begins at 6 p.m. Tickets for Freedom Rings are $10 for faculty, staff and the public and are available at

For more information about the university’s 2019 MLK commemoration, contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 803-777-4518.

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