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USC Plans MLK Observances

Dec 19, 2017 02:21PM ● Published by Kathleen Maris

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. 18 – 21.

This year marks the university’s 35th annual celebration to honor the civil rights leader, and the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination. The 2018 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 a film screening followed by a panel discussion Thursday, Jan. 18. The film, titled “Rikers: An American Jail,” is a documentary exploring the human crisis and toll of mass incarceration. The event will take place at 6 p.m. in the Honorable J. Karen Williams Courtroom at the new School of Law building at 1525 Senate St. The panel will feature I.S. Leevy Johnson, former South Carolina representative and current criminal defense attorney; Henrie Monteith Treadwell, Carolina alumna and internationally recognized public health expert; Benny Custodio, former Rikers inmate and current prison reform advocate; Jerry Blasingame, former South Carolina prison inmate and current executive director of Soteria Community Development Corporation; Seth Stoughton, university law professor and policing scholar; and Aaron Greene, Black Law Students Association social action chair. WIS-TV news anchor Judi Gatson will moderate and law professor Derek Black will present remarks. 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 7:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 19, in “The Zone” at Williams-Brice Stadium. Treadwell, who will deliver the keynote address, was one of the first African-American student to be admitted to the University of South Carolina in September of 1963 and earned a biology degree in 1965. She went on to earn her master’s in biology from Boston University and her doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from Atlanta University. She also completed post-doctoral studies in public health at Harvard University. 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 at the university and in the greater community.

Doors for the breakfast will open at 7 a.m. Tickets cost $5 for students and $10 for faculty, staff and the public, and are available in-person at the university’s Koger Center for the Arts box office, at 806 Park St. or by phone at 803-777-5112. Free parking will be available in Lot B next to the stadium, which is accessible off Key Road. 

Commemoration events conclude Sunday, Jan. 21 with a performance titled “Freedom Rings: An artistic celebration of the life of Dr. Martin L. King Jr.” Formerly the MLK Gospel Fest, this year’s event includes pieces from the Columbia Children's Community Choir, Resonance Quartet, Columbia City Ballet, Jim "Soni" Sonefeld, the Terrance Young Jazz Band, the Carolina Collegiate Super Choir featuring the University of South Carolina, Claflin University, South Carolina State University, Allen University, Benedict College, and Columbia College, plus additional celebrations of music and dance.

Doors for the show open at 5 p.m. and the show begins at 6 p.m. Tickets for Freedom Rings cost $10 for students, faculty, staff and the public and are available at the Koger Center’s box office, as well as at the Koger Center website. Free parking will be available in four university parking lots: FS11 on the corner of Lincoln Street and College Street; FS4 on Gadsden Street between Greene Street and Devine Street; and AD3 and GS4 on Gadsden between Devine Street and Blossom Street.

The Koger Center box office will be closed for the university’s holiday break from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1. It will re-open Jan. 2.

For more information about the university’s 2018 MLK commemoration, contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 803-777-9943.

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