Beginning on January 11, 2024, South Carolinians will come together to celebrate Charleston’s 52nd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. Put on by YWCA Greater Charleston each year, the tribute—first held in 1972 as one of the first national tributes of its kind—is a multi-day event reigniting Dr. King’s dream of racial equality.
The keynote speakers for two of the MLK Celebration’s most prominent events have been chosen and confirmed.
MLK BREAKFAST SUMMIT
The traditional capstone of the Celebration, the MLK Business and Professional Breakfast Summit will open the MLK Celebration this year. It will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 13 at the Charleston Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston.
Keynoting the breakfast summit will be Darrin Goss, Sr., president and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation.
As leader of the largest community foundation in South Carolina, Goss has served as a force for good, powerfully impacting the Charleston region in numerous ways. Among other initiatives, he was instrumental in establishing Coastal Community Foundation’s first advocacy initiative, the Policy Agenda, and its first Placed-Based Investing Program, which provides capital to emerging enterprises that address social needs. Under his leadership, the Foundation has experienced significant asset growth and community impact.
Goss also serves on the Philanthropy Southeast board of trustees, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce board of directors, the Charleston Leadership Foundation board, Truist Bank Community Advisory Board, and as board chair of MDC, Inc. of Durham, N.C., a nonprofit equipping Southern leaders, institutions, and communities to improve economic mobility and advance equity. He participated in The Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Institute of 2010 and is a Class of 2018 Liberty Fellow. He holds a master’s degree from North Greenville University and earned his bachelor’s degree from Wofford College.
MLK ECUMENICAL SERVICE
The historic MLK Ecumenical Service, the most longstanding of the Celebration’s events, will take place at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, January 14, at Charity Missionary Baptist Church at 1544 E. Montague Avenue in North Charleston. The service brings together congregations from across the Charleston tri-county region. Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III, pastor of Charity Missionary Baptist Church and vice president of religious affairs and external relations for the National Action Network, will preside over the service.
Keynoting the service will be Rabbi Stephanie Alexander, one of three rabbis for historic synagogue Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) in downtown Charleston.
According to The Times of Israel, Charleston, S.C. is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the U.S., numbering 10,000 in a 2016 study. Founded in 1749, KKBE is one of the oldest congregations in America. According to the synagogue’s website, its sanctuary is the oldest in continuous use for Jewish worship in America.
Under Rabbi Alexander’s leadership, she and KKBE were founding members of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM), a faith-based social justice organization of 30 diverse congregations. She has also served on CAJM’s board and as co-president, and in 2016 became the first female and the first Jewish recipient of the John H. Gillson Award for Racial Healing by the South Carolina Christian Action Council. She holds master’s degrees in Hebrew Literature and Religious Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, with study on its Jerusalem, Cincinnati, and New York campuses, and earned her bachelor’s degree and ordination from Tulane University.
The MLK Ecumenical Service is free and open to the public. Registration for the MLK Breakfast Summit will open in early January 2024 at ywcagc.org.
ABOUT YWCA GREATER CHARLESTON
For 116 years, YWCA Greater Charleston has worked to eliminate racism and empower women in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties. Among its initiatives to eliminate racism are its multi-day MLK Celebration, one of the first MLK tributes in the nation, Stand Against Racism, and Racial Equity & Inclusion workshops equipping leaders and laypeople to combat racism. Among its initiatives to empower women and girls are its #WhatWomenBring event celebrating South Carolina’s women in business, community, and culture, WE 360° workshops helping women of color overcome barriers in entrepreneurship, Y Girls Code clubs financially empowering girls, and SheStrong, empowering young women to develop as leaders and changemakers. For more information, visit ywcagc.org.
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