32nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration

Dr. Bobby Donaldson, Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research at the University of South Carolina-Columbia, will be the keynote speaker at the City of Columbia’s 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Monday, January 20, 2020, the City of Columbia and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation announced.

Professor Donaldson’s teaching and scholarship examine southern history and African American life and culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Presently, he serves as the lead scholar and director for the Columbia SC 63, a documentary project that examines the struggle for civil rights and social justice in Columbia and around the state of South Carolina.

“History is a constant reminder of our collective journeys. The year 1963 marked a dramatic crossroads in our city’s history, and the lessons and stories from that period are powerful reminders of the courageous decisions and incredible sacrifices that brought us to where we are. And still, they remind us of the work that remains and our own roles in transforming the world around us.” -Dr. Bobby Donaldson

The annual celebration will begin at 4 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and Community Center, 2300 Greene Street. A Wreath Laying Ceremony commemorating the historic marker honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be held at 3 p.m. at the corner of Harden and Greene streets on Monday, January 20. Members of the Alpha Psi Lambda and Omicron Iota Lambda chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. will lead the ceremony.

For more information about the City’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, contact Kevin B. Crawford II at 803-545-3100 or [email protected].

Dr. Bobby Donaldson Biography

A native of Augusta, Georgia, Dr. Bobby Donaldson serves as an Associate Professor of History and is the Director of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research at the University of South Carolina-Columbia. He received his undergraduate degree in History and African American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and his Ph.D. in American History from Emory University.

Professor Donaldson’s teaching and scholarship examine southern history and African American life and culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Presently, he serves as the lead scholar and director for the Columbia SC 63, a documentary project that examines the struggle for civil rights and social justice in Columbia and around the state of South Carolina. Dr. Donaldson and his research team have chronicled Benedict College’s role in the Civil Rights Movement. Additionally, they have showcased images and documents in a Ponder Gallery exhibition and during Benedict College’s longstanding African American history tele-conference.

During Dr. Donaldson’s academic career, he served as a Benjamin E. Mays-Andrew Mellon Fellow, as an editorial assistant for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Emory and Stanford universities, as a Thurgood Marshall Dissertation Fellow and visiting Assistant Professor at Dartmouth College, and as a Fellow of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

Hailed as a “Rising Star” by the University of South Carolina’s Office of Research, he received the campus’ distinguished Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2010, the John N. Gardner Inspirational Faculty Award in 2015, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award in 2016. In 2017, he was awarded the Stephen Morrison Visionary Award by the One Columbia for Arts & History Organization. In 2018, he received the South Carolina Governor’s Award in Historic Preservation and the South Carolina Governor’s Humanities Award. In 2019, Dr. Donaldson’s teaching, research, and community engagement were recognized by the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Dr. Donaldson’s memberships include the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Organization of American Historians, the Southern Historical Association, the South Carolina Archives and History Commission, the editorial board of the University of South Carolina Press, the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission, the South Carolinian Society, the NAACP, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, and the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees.

He and his wife Elise are the proud parents of Ruby (age twelve) and Joseph (age eight).

 “History is a constant reminder of our collective journeys. The year 1963 marked a dramatic crossroads in our city’s history, and the lessons and stories from that period are powerful reminders of the courageous decisions and incredible sacrifices that brought us to where we are. And still, they remind us of the work that remains and our own roles in transforming the world around us.” -Dr. Bobby Donaldson