If Martin Luther King Jr. were still alive, he would be celebrating his 88th birthday on Sunday, Jan. 15.
But the Civil Rights leader was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. And for the past 34 years, Americans have recognized King’s influence and leadership on the third Monday in January.
This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on Monday, Jan. 16, and there are several events in the works. Several events in January and February (Black History Month) will celebrate African-American culture. Here’s a sampling.
University of South Carolina
▪ The University of South Carolina’s School of Law will have a panel discussion, “Fulfilling Dr. King’s Call for Justice, Unity and Equality for All,” featuring 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.
6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12 at USC Law School Auditorium. Free and open to the public.
▪ The annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration breakfast with guest speaker the Rev. Ronnie Elijah Brailsford Sr., a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Brailsford, a 1980 Carolina graduate, was a longtime pastor of Bethel AME Church of Columbia before being named an AME bishop in November. The university will present its annual Social Justice Awards to faculty, staff and students who have worked to promote equality and justice.
8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 13 at The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium. $10 for faculty, staff and the public, $5 for students; purchase at Koger Center for the Arts box office, 806 Park St. Free parking n Lot B next to the stadium.
▪ The annual MLK Jr. Gospel Festival includes 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 local gospel choir from New Light Baptist Church of Hopkins; and Beverly Taylor, a local gospel artist from Batesville-Leesville.
6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 at Koger Center for the Arts, $12 for faculty, staff and the public, $8 for students; purchase at Koger Center’s box office.
▪ The first film in a series, “Soldiers without Swords: The Black Press,” will be shown. The History Center, part of USC’s College of Arts and Sciences, continues its focus on the legacy of Reconstruction with public screenings of films by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson.
6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 at USC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Communications Auditorium. Free and open to the public.