A man at a podium speaks to a crowd.
Rev. Dr. Jacob Kines spoke at the inaugural Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration at the college.

BCCC Holds Community Event to Honor King Legacy

To promote dialogue across Beaufort County on issues of civil rights, poverty and race, Beaufort County Community College brought together local political, religious and community leaders for a first Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration on January 21 on its campus.The event featured keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Jacob Kines, minister of First Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and music from the St. John’s Church of Christ Ensemble.

“The college is pleased to serve as a facilitator for intercultural dialogue in our region. It’s important that we all pause to commemorate the central meaning of Dr. King’s legacy: justice through reconciliation,” said Dr. Dave Loope, BCCC president.

The college saw a need to bring together multiple pillars of the community under one roof so that remembrance of Dr. King and his commitment to civil rights and equal opportunity are not limited to individual religious congregations or community groups.

Race-based disparities in education still exist in Beaufort County. Currently, 13 percent of African-American residents hold a college degree, compared to 37 percent of white residents.In today’s world, equal opportunity is linked closely with access to higher education and workforce development. A post-secondary education, whether in the form of an industry-recognized credential, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, is key to entry into the middle class, as degree holders can expect to earn between 30-70 percent more than Beaufort County residents with only a high school diploma, according to the US Census Bureau.

The college works diligently to promote higher education as an avenue for economic and social mobility for the residents of the county. Programs such as TRiO/Student Support Services and Men of Success offer additional support to first-generation college students, students experiencing poverty and minority males, in the case of the latter.

The college hopes to make this community gathering an annual event to ensure that the work and legacy of Dr. King, and the women and men who worked alongside him, continue to make the world a more just and equitable place.