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Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration to Recognize Area Students, Organizations

Bakari Sellers, Attorney and CNN Political Commentator, to be Keynote Speaker

(Aiken, SC) Students from the Aiken County Public School District and area service organizations will be among those in the spotlight Sunday, Jan. 22 during the 2017 Aiken Community Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The event will be held at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and the program begins at 3 p.m.

The free event, presented by Aiken Technical College and University of South Carolina Aiken, celebrates the life, legacy and work of Dr. King. This year’s theme is “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” a quote by Dr. King.

In the fall, Aiken County elementary pupils were asked to create artwork answering the question “What does the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday mean to you?” Middle and high school students were challenged to write an essay reflecting on the event’s theme.

First, second, and third place winners from each category will be recognized during the community celebration. Each first place winner will receive a Kindle Fire. Winning posters will be on display in the lobby of the USCA Convocation Center.

Winners are (by category):

Poster Contest: Kindergarten through Second Grade
  • First Place: Alexander Garcia, Ridge Spring-Monetta Elementary
  • Second Place:  Avery Rushing, Belvedere Elementary
  • Third Place: Landon Todd, Belvedere Elementary
Poster Contest: Third through Fifth Grades
  • First Place: Faith Clark, Belvedere Elementary
  • Second Place: Charlotte Hunsaker, Belvedere Elementary
  • Third Place: Aver Quiller, Belvedere Elementary
Essay Contest: Middle School
  • First Place: Chloe Powell, North Augusta Middle
  • Second Place: Stephanie Zaragoza, Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle
  • Third Place: Jolene Velazquez, North Augusta Middle
Essay Contest: High School
  • First Place: Robert Morris, Aiken High
  • Second Place: Emily Garvin, Silver Bluff High
  • Third Place: Taycerria Dunbar-Jackson, Silver Bluff High

Attendees will also have an opportunity to meet with representatives from several area service organizations to learn about their missions, needs and volunteer opportunities during the service fair taking place from 2:30-3 p.m.

Participating organizations include Aiken Center for Alcohol and Drug Services; Aiken County Branch of the NAACP; Aiken County Helpline 2-1-1; Aiken Senior Life Services; Brothers and Sisters of Aiken County; Center for African American History, Art and Culture; Children’s Place, Inc.; Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons; Community Medical Clinic of Aiken County; Mental Health American of Aiken County; Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Center; Project VISION; South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department; The RECing Crew; United Way of Aiken County; and Women Leadership Council.

The keynote speaker for the celebration is Bakari Sellers, an attorney, CNN political commentator and former South Carolina state house representative. Sellers made history in 2006 when he was elected to the South Carolina state house becoming the youngest member in the state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation.

He has spoken at events for the Democratic National Convention, College Democrats of America National Convention, and the National Education Association. He has also appeared on news shows such as Hardball with Chris Matthews and Morning Joe.

The community celebration will also feature musical performances by choirs from Second Baptist Church of Aiken, Mount Anna Baptist Church, and the Aiken Community Choir.

Jay Jefferies, WFXG Fox 54 meteorologist, will be the emcee for the program. 

This event is supported through the generous donations of several area businesses. Gold Sponsor: Chandler Law Firm. Silver Sponsors: AECOM; Aiken County Government; Aiken Regional Medical Centers; Atlantic Broadband; AT&T, Bridgestone; City of Aiken; Savannah River Nuclear Solutions; SRP Federal Credit Union; Security Federal Bank; SCE&G; and University Hospital. Bronze Sponsors: Aiken County Branch of the NAACP; Aiken Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Aiken Personnel Services; Concerned Ministers Fellowship; and Rural Health Services, Inc.

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