The distance we have endured between our families and communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic has created a longing for connection and unity that we have never experienced before. We have collected to share Dr. King’s words to not only honor his memory, but stand together in solidarity during a time of significant division. We hope this stands as a representation of an ongoing commitment to combating racism and systemic oppression within our institutions as well as our greater community. Dr. King’s mission for equality and justice for all is still relevant today. And while we have come far, we have so much farther to go. We believe we can if we work together. We would like to thank the Wofford students who participated creating this vision and Dr. John Lefebrve for his contribution.

— 2021 Wofford College Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee

In reflecting on the importance of the racial justice movement that took place last summer and continues to permeate through time, this year, the theme for the Wofford College Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Celebration is “Keeping the same energy: whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In alignment with the life and legacy of Dr. King, the Wofford College Planning Committee has utilized three Bonner Scholar social justice benchmarks to categorize each event to meet attendees where they are in their understanding. Please review the list of events below.


Monday, Jan. 18

Keeping the Same Energy: 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Keynote Address

Time: 1 p.m.
Contact: Dean Taifha Alexander

Dr. Shayla Nunnally, professor of political science and chair of the Africana studies program at the University of Tennessee, will deliver the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day keynote address. In amplifying the racial justice movement of 2020 and on the heels of the election of a new president, Nunnally will highlight King's belief in the ability of American political institutions' authority to facilitate democracy and racial equity, while analyzing the possibility of that belief under the Biden-Harris Administration. This event is open to everyone within the Wofford community as well as the larger, global community it serves. Register in advance using the Zoom link: https://wofford.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rn3tRLTHSQirmNHhvonEmA.



Sunday, Jan. 17

Movie Viewing

Time: 4 p.m.
Contact: Nadia Glover

Come and enjoy a free showing of The Color of Friendship, the story of two girls from opposite sides of the world who in 1977 come together and change each other's lives. Mahree Bok, a young girl living in apartheid South Africa with her wealthy family, spends a semester abroad in Washington, D.C. with Piper Delluems, the daughter of a Black U.S. congressman. Both Piper and Mahree are challenged to explore their misconceptions of each other and learn the true meaning of friendship.


Tuesday, Jan. 19

Poetry Slam

Time: 6 p.m.
Contact: Nadia Glover

Come for an evening of reflection and celebration. All members of the Wofford community will have an opportunity to read excerpts from texts written by people who have dedicated their lives to promoting unity through community responsibility and uplifting the voices of the unheard. Registered participants may choose from a list of books, poems and short stories provided by the hosts of the event, or they may read an excerpt from a text they provide. Participants will be limited to a 2-minute reading to allow enough time for all other participants to share. Follow this link to register: https://forms.gle/AjWasbZ7uR38pkcB9



Tuesday, Jan. 19

MLK Week: Can Faith and Activism Meet?

Time: 11 a.m.
Contact: Dr. Tasha Smith-Tyus

Join us for an interfaith conversation, moderated by the Rev. Ron Robinson, where panelists Dr. Bishop Charles Jackson, Pastor Nannie Jefferies, Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz and the Rev. Christy Snow will engage us in a conversation about Dr. King’s legacy as a man of faith, action and social change. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail on April 16, 1963, Dr. King noted that “Whatever affects one directly impacts all indirectly,” illustrating his strong belief in the connection between faith and social activism. The panelists will explore how Dr. King’s message and individuals’ efforts for racial equity, justice and inclusivity are not mutually exclusive of their faith and spirituality.


Wednesday, Jan. 20

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Impacts on Communities of Color in the Upstate (Furman event)

Time: 6:30 p.m.
Contact: Dean Taifha Alexander

The novel coronavirus has reinforced many ugly truths about racial disparities pervasive and entrenched in our society. Long-standing structural health and social inequities in the United States have created stark imbalances, where Black and Brown communities are disproportionately impacted by the virus and ensuing pandemic. More so, institutionalized racism manifests in differential access to healthcare, education, economic stability, the criminal justice system and broader social services. This virtual event is sponsored and led by Furman University's Center for Inclusive Communities and will highlight the impacts of the global pandemic in the Upstate, and the efforts community organizers and service organizations have prioritized as a means to tackle these challenging times. Panelists will address a wide variety of issues and the unique implications from a community engagement lens. Panelists are Jalen Elrod, Community Organizer, Traci Fant, Organizer Freedom Fighters Upstate SC, Geri Kinlaw, Teacher, Travelers Rest High School and Carmen Ogles, Communities Faith Coordinator, Bon Secours.


Thursday, Jan. 21

Conversations with the City of Spartanburg’s Chief of Police

Time: 5-6 p.m.
Contact: Dean Taifha Alexander

The police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others have led to calls for the defunding, and even abolishing police. In alignment with the theme of this year's MLK celebration, “Keeping the Same Energy: Whatever Impacts One Directly, Impacts All Indirectly,” the MLK planning committee is hosting a virtual conversation with Spartanburg Chief of Police Alonzo Thompson. As a Black, male, chief of police, Thompson will provide insight into race, equity and policing in Spartanburg.


Friday, Jan. 22

The Kerner Commission: An Ignored Lesson Plan

Time: Noon
Contact: James Stukes

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission, highlighted systematic racism, legal injustices and inequality across many sectors as the underlying causes of the civic unrest during that period. How did America respond to the report? What has changed and what changes still need to be made? Join Principal Marquice Clark as he will explore these questions and more through his lens as an educator, administrator and researcher.



Monday, Jan. 18

Finding Common Ground: From Conflict to Coalition Building

Time: 2:30-5 p.m.
Contact: Sara Milani

NCBI’s award-winning Controversial Issues Process trains leaders to deal constructively with tough conflicts, enabling them to move disputing parties toward future cooperation. Participants learn to reframe controversial issues into a context where all parties are able to work toward a common solution. The skills taught in this workshop can be used by anyone in any conflict situation, from simple misunderstanding to heated debate. Registration closes at noon on Jan. 18 as participants are expected to join the meeting at 2:15 p.m.


Tuesday, Jan. 19

Opportunities in Washington, DC: A conversation with the U.S. House of Representative Office of Diversity and Inclusion Director Kemba Hendrix and Deputy Director Jeyben Castro

Time: 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Contact: Dr. David Alvis

The House Office of Diversity and Inclusion is an independent office within the U.S. House of Representatives committed to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce. Attend this information session led by Director Kemba Hendrix and Deputy Director Jayben Castro, to learn more about the office’s charge to provide Congress with a diversity plan that will direct and guide House employing offices to recruit, hire, train, develop, advance, promote, and retain a diverse workforce. During the information session, there also will be an opportunity to learn more about intern and externship possibilities with the office.


Wednesday, Jan. 20

NCBI White Caucus

Time: 6-7 p.m.
Contact: Nadia Glover

This session is a caucus for white identifying Wofford students, faculty, and staff to engage in conversation about how to continue anti-racism work. Participants will have an opportunity to engage with small groups and identify personal and collective actions that can be used to combat racial and social injustice. Eligible attendees who RSVP by 5 p.m. Jan. 15 will receive an email with link to attend the meeting. RSVP with the following link: https://forms.gle/5WXEEVYUk9meKyDP9


Spartanburg City Councilwomen Erica Brown and Meghan Smith and the legacy of Dr. King

Time: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: Dr. Begoña Caballero | James Stukes

Spartanburg City Councilwomen Erica Brown and Meghan Smith will talk about their journey in the political sphere, and will discuss their role as public servants in relationship to the life and legacy of Dr. King. Join us to learn more on how our representatives make a difference and fight for equity and social change in the city of Spartanburg.


Date: Sign up now for future event

Racial Healing Circles

Contact: Jessalyn Story
In mid-December, Spartanburg trained 25 diverse racial healing circle co-facilitators. The first of Spartanburg’s racial healing circles will kick off on and around MLK Day 2021. To participate in a circle, please submit one of the forms below. You’ll soon be invited to join a circle. Because the circles are carefully populated for optimal numbers and robust diversity, when you receive an invitation to participate in a circle, please respond as quickly as possible, so that an alternate may be found if you can’t use your slot. Dr. Gail Christopher, developer of the National Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation (TRHT) framework was the keynote speaker for Spartanburg’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Celebration in January 2020. To help communities like ours heal and transform, she developed racial healing circles, conversations that honor and value each person’s humanity, build mutually respectful relationships across racial and ethnic lines, and better reflect our common humanity. Sign up here: https://spartanburgtruth.org/racial-healing-circles

Events and Additional Service Opportunities


Wednesday, Jan. 13

Bonner Scholars: Keeping the Same Energy

Time: 6-7 p.m.
Contact: Dean Taifha Alexander

Bonner Scholars Hector Ortiz, Tyrus Peoples, Breana Dogan, Savannah Bryant and Sammy Omar will highlight the importance of community engagement and service and their connection to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and empower members of the Wofford community to “Keep the Same Energy,” in alignment with the college’s 2021 King celebration theme. Attendees also will receive information on how to register for service opportunities to engage in on MLK Day, Jan. 18, to join members of the Wofford and Spartanburg community in remembrance of King.


Saturday, Jan. 16

Wofford Men of Color Hygiene Kits for Homeless

Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Tony White Theater
Contact: Eyon Brown

Join Wofford Men of Color as they prepare hygiene kits for the homeless community in Spartanburg. Bags will be packed during this event and delivered on MLK Day, Jan. 18.


Monday, Jan. 18

MLK Week: Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. virtual interest meeting

Time: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: Eyon Brown

Join the Iota Pi Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. for a virtual Zoom interest meeting. Submit questions to Eyon Brown. Zoom link: https://wofford.zoom.us/j/98212900688


Saturday, Jan. 23

African Dance Session

Time: Noon
Contact: James Stukes

Come learn the history and witness the beauty of African dance, presented by Alvin Ailey dancer Arialle Kennedy Smith of Spartanburg. This will be a virtual event. It is encouraged to wear comfortable clothing.


Resources

For additional volunteer opportunities for MLK week, log in to your myWofford account and click on the Campus Connect link.

The Wofford campus community is encouraged to participate in MLK Unity Week events organized by the City of Spartanburg. For more information: https://www.cityofspartanburg.org/mlk-unity-week