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District Students Honored During Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration at USC Aiken

Members of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration Steering Committee honored student winners of the organization’s 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Essay and Creative Visual Posters contests during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration held Sunday, January 26, 2020, at the University of South Carolina Aiken’s Convocation Center.

The keynote address for the event was delivered by Dr. Bobby Donaldson, a civilian rights scholar, historian and professor with the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

“Every day I am mindful that the opportunities I enjoy as a teacher and professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia are because of the stony roads that we’ve trodden,” stated Dr. Robinson. “Ironic it is that I celebrate my twentieth year teaching … in a state where my people for generations were enslaved and worked as struggling farmers here in Aiken County.”

Dr. Robinson added that his career as a historian actually began on the front porch of his grandparent’s home off of Green Pond Road in the Petticoat Junction community of Aiken County.

“Although I am from Augusta my roots are right here,” he stated. “In my office on my desk there is a photograph of my grandparents. I learned to be a historian on their front porch shelling peas, snapping beans, shucking corn, and cutting collards. They started talking and the little boy started listening. They talked about the weather. Church. Food. Crops. They talked about grown folks’ business, and I listened. I learned, I listened and I took mental notes. Now, for three decades I’ve been working as a professor to document and illuminate those stories that I heard on that front porch in a little white house on Green Pond Road in the big town of Petticoat Junction.”

Local news anchor Monique Williams served as emcee for the event, while Ms. Erin DeVeaux, Assistant Vice President of Retail Branches with SRP Federal Credit Union, presented the essay and posters contest winners.

Kindergarten through fifth-grade students in Aiken County participated in the creative visual poster contest. Their original designs represented what the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday means to them. Students who participated in the sixth- through 12th-grade essay contest were asked to explain what a selected quote from Dr. King meant to them. The quote chosen by the members of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Steering Committee was: “What does it mean to stand up for what you believe is right?”

District winners in the kindergarten to second grade category included students Ashanti Head of Jefferson Elementary School (First Place), Adalyn Hammonds of Busbee Elementary (Second Place), and Ivanna Shaw-Tyler of Busbee Elementary (Third Place).

District winners in the third to fifth grade category included students Ethan Jolley of Oakwood-Windsor Elementary School (First Place), Britton Breazeale of Mossy Creek Elementary School (Second Place), and Kennedi Kitchings of Busbee Elementary School (Third Place).

Middle school students' essays could not exceed 1,000 words, while the maximum word count for high school essays was 1,500 words.

District winners of the Middle School essay contest included students Brenda Garrett of Jackson STEM Middle Magnet School (First Place), Sofia Romero of Jackson STEM Middle Magnet School (Second Place), and Mya Holston of Kennedy Middle School (Third Place).

District winners in the High School essay contest included students Kimberly E. Morris of Aiken High School (First Place), and Kamora Johnson of North Augusta High School (Second Place).

Winning poster entries were displayed during the community celebration, and all submitted poster entries will be displayed during the month of February at the Center for African American History, Art and Culture, 120 York Street NE, Aiken. The center is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 4:00 p.m. and other times by appointment.

Human & Civil Rights Student Champion Award recipients included Dalton Anderson of the University of South Carolina Aiken, and Brandon Rivera of Aiken Technical College.

Musical selections were performed by the Aiken Concert Choir and the Bethlehem Baptist Church Choir of Graniteville.

Aiken Technical College and USC Aiken served as co-sponsors for the annual community celebration.

DROPBOX LINK TO STUDENT PHOTOS: Each ACPSD winner is pictured with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration Steering Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Franklin, and keynote speaker Dr. Bobby Donaldson. Not pictured is Ivanna Shaw-Tyler of Busbee Elementary.

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LINK TO DISTRICT PRESS RELEASE: 2020 PR MLK CELEBRATION 

ACPSD Communications Department