West Columbia students and community reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. before Monday, King’s Birthday

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day will be observed on Monday, Jan. 15, the day of King’s birthday. It is the third Monday of January. In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday, the City of West Columbia City Hall will be closed Monday (Jan. 15.) and Lexington Two schools will be closed.

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday was created in 1983 and first officially observed in 1986. It was 56 years ago this year that King was assassinated.

MLK Day is observed as a national day of service. It is presented as a day to volunteer, give back and donate service to the community. In his life, King worked toward achieving economic parity for minorities and the poor. His birthday offers the opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the advancements in civil rights, economic development, and human rights that have been made in our country since his death.

King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC in 1963. In that speech King said: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”
Erika Whitlow is the Chief Information Officer for East Point Academy. She said King’s message is taught to East Point students using his “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Different aspects of Dr. King’s life are taught to students based on grade-level,” Whitlow said, in accordance with South Carolina Educational Standards.

Whitlow said the “I Have a Dream” speech” is taught to fifth-grade students, along with instruction on what King meant to the country. She also said various aspects of King’s legacy are taught depending on the individual teacher, but the history of King’s Civil Rights Movement, and the leaders who fought with him, are taught to middle school students. Whitlow also said King’s impact is examined, including programs that are presented  during Black History month in February.

At Northside Middle School, Principal Dr. Tiffany Hall said King is remembered and revered on the date of his birthday.

“You will see student-generated art work and essays written in Dr. King’s honor on the walls of our classrooms. It is an opportunity for our students to express their regard for what they have learned about Dr. King and his effort to expand civil rights to all Americans. The information and images the students post are left up for a couple of weeks to give everyone the chance to see them.

Northside teachers also use context from King’s movement in their classrooms.

“We will read aloud the “I have a Dream Speech” in class. We are now studying the three Reconstruction Amendments passed after the Civil War and my lesson will relate them to the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s lead by Dr. King. Our advanced class will compare and contrast the two movements. They will do a character analysis of Dr. King and write a descriptive paragraph on his life,” said Jan Hammond 8th grade social studies.

“We are taking about Southern Asia. Gandhi used non-violent movement for the creation of India. Martin Luther King Jr. used the ideas of Gandhi in the Civil Right Movement. It would be a brief mini lesson on MLK Jr.,” said Robert Pumphrey 7th grade social studies.

“Our district curriculum includes Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. We will be reading that later this quarter,” said Pam Lorentz 8th grade English.

Local MLK Day events:

The Annual MLK Day Holiday Breakfast will be held Sat. Jan. 13, at the Brookland Banquet and Conference Center, 1066 Sunset Blvd. in West Columbia. Political Strategist Antjuan Seawright is the Guest Speaker. Theme: “A House Divided! Is There No Balm In America? Click here for information

Vice President Kamala Harris will be a keynote speaker at the NAACP’s annual “King Day at the Dome” event in Columbia on Jan. 15. The annual church service will be held at the South Carolina State Capitol to commemorate Dr. King’s life and legacy. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. will also be in attendance. 

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Columbia Museum of Art is open with free admission and hosting special MLK Day programming. There will be a Storytelling Celebration, featuring line dancing on Boyd Plaza hosted by Franklin Jones beginning at 1 p.m.  and a storytelling celebration beginning at 1:30. Free admission supported by Art Bridges Foundation’s Access for All program.
Click here for information

Each year the University of South Carolina celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through a series of events held in the month of January. Join hands with your Carolina community to honor Dr. King’s life and to work together to help others. Click here for more information

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