By: LUKE QUILLEN
(Saturday, January 21st) - Under Chancellor Kelly’s leadership USC Upstate has made increasing the school’s presence within Spartanburg’s civic community, while demonstrating its commitment to diversity, priority initiatives - and both were on display during Spartanburg City’s annual “Unity Walk” last month.
Dozens of USC Upstate students and members of faculty were on hand for the walk, including Chancellor Kelly himself, who gave a speech to all attendees before the march that emphasized USC Upstate's commitment to the principles of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as USC Upstate’s commitment to passing these values down to students, a growing number of whom are African-American.
Also present was student body president James Parham, who said of the walk, “I’m very excited to be a part of this event. This is a chance to learn something new about my peers to be informed on where they come from when entering into civil discussions about the past, present, and future of the civil rights of people in our Republic. It’s also nice to be with my friends - and if it’s important to them, it’s important to me”.
Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Alphonso Atkins was another key member of USC Upstate leadership walking, and spoke with me after the event, stating, “I am incredibly pleased that USC Upstate is more involved this year. We are a public University that gives students an accessible, affordable opportunity at a quality college education, and it’s important that we are present and active within our local community”.
Many civic and local government leaders were in attendance for the march as well, including City Council member Alan Jenkins, who said of the march, “In a world where we are becoming increasingly divided, it’s heartwarming to have an opportunity to walk as one with the Spartanburg community”.
The march was just one of a number of events planned or highlighted by USC Upstate to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. But if you missed any of these events, don’t worry, you still have an opportunity to learn firsthand about the civil rights movement because a colleague of Martin Luther King Jr’s and fellow civil rights leader, Dr. Cleveland Sellers (father of former SC legislator and current CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers), will be speaking at USC Columbia on the evening of February 7th. Tickets for that event are free and can be reserved here.