Civil Rights Historian Encourages Continuing Work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration, keynote speaker Dr. Bobby Donaldson shared a message of encouragement and challenged attendees to continue to honor Dr. King through their actions.
The annual celebration, hosted by the University of South Carolina Aiken and Aiken Technical College, was held Sunday, January 26 at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.
Donaldson is the director of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research at the University of South Carolina and is also an associate professor of history at the university. He is an Augusta, GA native who also has family connections to the Petticoat Junction area of Aiken County.
The event’s theme was based on a Dr. King quote: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Donaldson reflected on the quote by sharing stories about Dr. King’s local travels and how Dr. King emphasized the importance of having a “grounds crew” to help advance the movement forward.
Donaldson further shared that having a “grounds crew” is just as important today as it was during the height of the civil rights movement.
“Dr. Benjamin May’s said, ‘Dr. King’s life was not in vain. If we want to honor Dr. King, his undone work on earth must be our own.’ What Dr. Mays said in 1968, applies to each of us today,” said Donaldson. “Every year, we gather for events like this—celebrations, commemorations, breakfasts, parades—and yet the question is, where do you stand? Not only today, but tomorrow and the years to come. Where do we stand with this history? If this history matters, then we should use it as we train our students. If this history matters, we should use it as we embrace and lift up the least of these. If this history matters, we should use it as we speak truth to power and blow the trumpet against wrong.”
During the celebration, the event’s steering committee awarded its Human & Civil Rights Student Champion Award to two college students who have demonstrated leadership, commitment to diversity, and advocacy.
Brandon Rivera was the ATC recipient of the award. He serves as the president of ATC’s Student Government Association and is also a member of the Student Veterans Association and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Rivera is also actively engaged in activities on current topics in diversity and supports events and efforts to celebrate various cultures including assisting with organizing events, participating in diversity training opportunities, and attending diversity leadership conferences.
Dalton Anderson was the USC Aiken recipient of the award. He is the president of the history club and has participated in activities to ensure all stories are told and documented. He helped lead a history club digitization project for the Center for African American History, Art and Culture; assisted with organizing oral history for the Aiken County Branch of the NAACP; and is involved in maintaining Pine Lawn Cemetery.
Anderson has also participated in several events advocating for the rights and equal treatment of others.
Sponsors for the annual event are:
- Savannah River Nuclear Solutions
- Savannah River Remediation
- SRP Federal Credit Union
- Aiken Electric Cooperative
- Aiken Regional Medical Centers
- Atlantic Broadband
- City of Aiken
- Mead Hall
- Security Federal Bank
- Aiken Chapter of Links, Inc.
- Aiken County Branch of the NAACP
- Concerned Ministers Fellowship
- Kappa Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.
- Rural Health Services
- Shout 94.7 FM