Widow of slain state senator to speak during MLK commemorative service

By: By Wanda Johnson - For The Sentinel-Progress
Jennifer Pinckney
Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn.
President Barack Obama delivers the eulogy at the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney at the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., June 26, 2015.

CLEMSON — Spearheaded by the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center, Clemson University will celebrate the birth, life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jan. 12-18 with the theme “By All Means Keep Moving” from a 1967 speech King delivered in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The MLK planning committee feels it is our responsibility to encourage MLK celebration participants to engage Dr. King beyond his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in order to provide a more holistic view of his life and legacy,” said Dr. Kendra Stewart-Tillman, director for diversity and inclusion in the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center and chair of the MLK planning committee.

The Office of Inclusion and Equity is facilitating a civil rights trip to Memphis, Tenn. Jan. 12-14 to help students and faculty to ‘keep reflecting.’ Trip participants will visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, where King was assassinated April 4, 1968. They also will walk through history at the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, where guides share how runaway slaves found safe passage in secret compartments of the antebellum home.

Students, faculty and staff intend to ‘keep serving’ during the national MLK holiday.

“We had an overwhelming response to our call for volunteers for the Day of Service this year, with more than 150 students giving up their ‘day off’ for a ‘day on’ during the actual MLK holiday Monday, Jan. 15,” Stewart-Tillman said. “Students will volunteer at many community agencies in our area, including Helping Hands, Clemson Downs, Clemson Child Development Center and Habitat for Humanity.

Stewart-Tillman said members of the university’s Pi Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Inc. will serve as group leaders at each site.

“We are proud that so many of our students are working during the holiday to honor Dr. King’s commitment to the importance of service to others,” Stewart-Tillman said.

A commemorative service at 6 p.m. at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts Jan. 16, allows attendees to ‘keep honoring’ as Clemson welcomes keynote speaker Jennifer Pinckney, widow of Pastor and S.C. Senator Clementa C. Pinckney. White supremacist Dylan Roof gunned down Pinckney and eight other people June 17, 2015, during a church service at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. President Barack Obama delivered Pinckney’s eulogy. “Once the committee confirmed Jennifer Pinckney as the 2018 keynote speaker, we felt that her story of pressing forward and seeking to promote positive change after such a significant personal tragedy embodied the true meaning of our theme,” Stewart-Tillman said.

Students, faculty and staff will ‘keep advocating‘ at 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at McKissick Theatre, as they present entries for the 2018 MLK oratorical competition, and ‘keep learning’ as members of the campus community will act out real scenarios of power, privilege and oppression in a simulated Tunnel of Oppression at the Hendrix Center, Jan. 18, 6 p.m.

Jennifer Pinckney
https://www.sentinelprogress.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_mlk-speaker.jpgJennifer Pinckney Courtesy photo

Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn.
https://www.sentinelprogress.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_National_Civil_Rights_Museum_3.jpgLorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn. Courtesy photo

President Barack Obama delivers the eulogy at the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney at the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., June 26, 2015.
https://www.sentinelprogress.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_speaker1.jpgPresident Barack Obama delivers the eulogy at the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney at the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., June 26, 2015. Courtesy photo

By Wanda Johnson

For The Sentinel-Progress