In light of the ongoing global pandemic, the University of South Carolina will celebrate the 2021 MLK Jr. holiday with a lineup of mostly virtual events. The 2021 series also will occur over an extended timeline to serve as a kickoff to Black History Month in February.

Events begin Thursday morning (Jan. 14), when three 2021 Social Justice Award winners will be recognized in a small private ceremony with UofSC President Bob Caslen. The Social Justice Awards were created to recognize individuals who have exemplified the philosophies of Dr. King through random or ongoing acts of community service, social justice or racial reconciliation.

At 6 p.m. that evening, the UofSC Black Law Students Association (BLSA) will host a virtual panel discussion called “Applying 2020 Vision in 2021: A Clear View of Our Community’s Pursuit Towards MLK’s Dream and the Existing Challenges.” The event is designed to consider the progress that we have made as a community, areas where we are still struggling and recognize the power of individual voices in evoking change. BLSA President Brandon Adams and member Jasmine Caruthers will moderate a panel of university alumni, including:

Mauricus "Moe" Brown, former Democratic nominee for South Carolina's 5th Congressional District in 2020

Lyric Swinton, co-founder and Director of Engagement of Secure the Ballot, project associate at Full Circle Strategies, LLC, and Director of Diversity & Inclusion at SC Women In Leadership

Taylor Wright, special assistant to Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin

The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

Following MLK Weekend, at 6 p.m. on Jan. 28, the university’s School of Music will hold a virtual concert called “The Legacy of Richard Greener in Song,” which will air excerpts from a live campus performance of Jeff Scott’s “A Pioneer’s Opus” and Valerie Coleman’s “Glory,” music inspired by the life and work of Richard Greener. After the virtual concert, there will be a virtual discussion about the legacy of Richard Greener, the role of African Americans in modern classical music and the ways in which social justice themes have always been a part of Black artists’ legacies in the classical music field.

Finally, leading off Black History Month, the School of Music will present the “Brighter Beginnings” virtual concert, creating a 30-minute classic show band concert that will pay tribute to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and show its impact among young activists' movements of today. The event will begin at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a 25-minute live discussion and question-and-answer session on the continued role of Black music in freedom movements in America.

Both virtual events are free and open to the public. For a full list of Black History Month and other diversity events, visit the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. For more information about the university’s MLK Weekend celebration, visit sc.edu/mlk.

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