Skip to content

Freedom Fund Banquet highlights MLK Day weekend

South Carolina NAACP President Brenda Murphy

The 42nd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet hosted by the Laurens County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will highlight several local events honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The banquet is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Springfield Baptist Church Life Center in Laurens.

This year’s theme is “Economic Sustainability Across the Community.” Brenda Murphy, president of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, will be the guest speaker. She is the first woman elected as president of the state’s NAACP.

Murphy, a Ridgeway native, has been a nurse for 40 years and retired as a Major after 17 years with the U.S. Army Reserves Nurse Corps. She is also an adjunct faculty member at South University’s Columbia campus where she teaches and mentors student nurses. She was a recipient of the state’s Palmetto Gold Nursing Award.

Laurens NAACP Branch Secretary Carolyn Shortt said she expects 350 people or more to attend the annual banquet.

“We really are having tremendous support,” she said. “We’re extremely excited about that level of support. . . . We set our goals, but we’ve exceeded our goals.”

Tickets are still available for the banquet and can be purchased by calling Shortt at 923-1024 or Shirley Clark at 923-1879.


Sanders MLK celebration Saturday morning

In celebration of the life and purpose of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. members of the Sanders Alumni Association have developed plans for a Saturday morning, Jan. 19 parade, pop-up shop and program. The day will include readings by the winners of a countywide middle school student essay contest on, “I, Too, Have a Dream.”

“We’ve been looking for ways to encourage the involvement of children in the MLK Day Celebration, and we will be giving the awards to the winners, and they will be honored at the MLK Day Celebration,” Sanders Alumni Association Officer Elma Morrison said.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at 337 N. Harper Street near the Laurens Post Office. Anyone is welcome to participate.

The pop-up shops will begin opening at 10 a.m. in the Sanders gymnasium. The program will begin at noon in the auditorium. Sara Latimore, member of the Sanders High Class of 1965, will be the guest speaker.


District 55 Oratorical Competition

The inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Competition is set for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Laurens District 55 High School lecture theater.

The competition will feature 19 students from six schools in the fourth and fifth grades.

The goal of the competition is for students to “experience the transforming power of language, self-expression and compassion that is part of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy.”

Students were asked to describe how they relate to a quote from King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

The competitors went through preliminary rounds of the competition at their individual schools to reach the finals. Here is a list of the finalists from each school:

E.B. Morse Elementary: Jessie Allmond, Brianne Curtiss-Gilliam, Daniel Alfred.

Ford Elementary: Eryn White, Lesley Rivas-Bonilla, Victor Bailon-Diaz.

Gray Court-Owings Elementary: James Price Turner, Matthew Bates Turner, Lucy Stiehler.

Hickory Tavern Elementary: Kaylynn Leigh Phillips, Christopher Montjoy, William Cody Patterson.

Laurens Elementary: Logan Gault, Mariza Manuel, Mary Ellis Power, Shina Patel.

Waterloo Elementary: Alex Gambrell, Hanna Shipley, Delia Shirley.

The presentations will be judged by a panel composed of local civic, education and business leaders.


AmeriCorps members helping in Joanna

AmericaCorps Upstate members will spend Friday volunteering for several service projects to honor King’s life and contributions. Members annually participate in the Day of Service, but this is their first service project in Laurens County.

The volunteers will be working at Joanna Christ Central Mission Station at 710 Magnolia Street in Joanna. They will be painting, cleaning and organizing at the facility from 10 a.m.-2 p.m..

“AmeriCorps is designed to serve local communities,” Program Director Alex Haymond said. “We are excited to bring our passion for service to the town of Joanna.”

For information on AmeriCorps, visit online at

Leave a Comment