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Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

|Dr. Mary Frances Berry

Last updated January 5, 2017

By Tina Underwood

Author, educator and historian Dr. Mary Frances Berry will speak Friday, Jan. 13 during a Community Breakfast celebrating the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. The breakfast begins at 8 a.m., with the program following at 8:30 a.m. in Watkins Room of the Trone Student Center on the Furman University campus.

Dr. Mary Frances Berry

Dr. Berry’s talk, “Achieving Diversity and Opportunity in the 21st Century: Now is the Time,” is part of “Building the Beloved Community,” a series of events honoring MLK.

The Community Breakfast featuring Berry is open to the public and is sponsored by Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives of Furman University’s Student Life, and the Community Relations office. Tickets are $50 per person.

For more than four decades, Berry has been recognized as one the most respected voices in our nation’s civil rights, gender equality and social justice movements. Serving as Chairperson of the United States Civil Rights Commission, Berry led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans over the course of four presidential administrations. A trailblazer for women and African Americans alike, she also became the first woman of any race to head a major research university, serving at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She now serves as professor of American Social thought at the University of Pennsylvania.

One of the founders of the monumental Free South Africa Movement, Berry and her organization were instrumental in raising global awareness of South African injustice, helping to end over 40 years of apartheid. Berry also served as Assistant Secretary for Education in the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, working to make historically inequitable systems achieve new levels of fairness.

A prolific author, Berry’s books cover a wide range of subjects from the history of constitutional racism in America to the politics of parenthood. Her most recent book is Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House, which offers insight and historical context for President Obama’s most memorable speeches.

Other Furman events commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. follow. All events are free and open to the public with the exception of the Jan. 13 Community Breakfast and the Jan. 29 Scholarship Gala.

MLK Day of Service, Monday, Jan. 16
Watkins Room, Trone Student Center
8 a.m. check-in and breakfast
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Community Projects at various venues
Sponsor: Furman Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives in Student Life; Fraternity & Sorority Life; and Heller Service Corps
Contact: Nancy Cooper,, 864-294-2900

“Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise,” Wednesday, Jan. 18, 6 p.m.
Burgiss Theatre, Trone Student Center
Documentary and Panel Discussion
Sponsor:  The Urban League of the Upstate
Contact: Deborah Allen,, 864-294-2267

MLK Interfaith Celebration, Sunday, Jan. 22, 5 p.m.
Daniel Memorial Chapel
Rev. Hannah Bonner (Class of 2008), proclaimer of justice, love and truth
Marlanda Dekine (Class of 2008), poet
Contact: Maria Swearingen,, 864-294-2133

Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Gala Sunday, Jan. 29, 3 p.m.
Melvin and Dollie Younts Conference Center
Sponsor: Alpha Phi Alpha Greenville Foundation,
Tickets: $50 per person
Contact: Allen Cook,, or 864-380-5781

Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Program and Rudolph Gordon College Fair, Saturday, Feb. 4, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Burgiss Theater and Watkins Room, Trone Student Center
Sponsor: Alpha Phi Alpha Greenville Foundation,
Contact: Bobby Clark,, or 864-441-9067

Joseph Vaughn Oratorical Contest, Saturday, Feb.18, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Burgiss Theater, Trone Student Center
Sponsor:  Alpha Phi Alpha Greenville Foundation,
Contact: Michael Chatman,, or 864-906-7078

For table or ticket information about the Community Breakfast featuring Dr. Mary Frances Berry, contact Chandra Dillard,, or 864-294-2503. More information about Furman University MLK events may be found at, or contact Deborah Allen,, 864-294-2267.

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