Nearly 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Myrtle Beach native and Augusta resident Ron Williams says he's working to keep the legacy of civil rights and community empowerment alive.
To that end, Williams is sponsoring the 50th Year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Tribute at Charleston Southern University on Feb. 3 where 100 tri-county residents will be presented with the Dream Keepers Award.
"We done lost a generation and a lot of kids think Martin Luther King died 500 years ago versus 50 years ago," he said. "We want to make sure, by virtue of them coming out to this event, that they see people that came out of their neighborhoods, that excelled in life, that went out and just changed the community."
Williams, a minister and entrepreneur, founded the R&R Youth and Community Empowerment Organization, the nonprofit behind the Charleston-area tribute as well as events in Myrtle Beach and Savannah on Feb. 2 and Feb. 4, respectively.
The events will feature a VIP reception, red carpet photo shoot, presentation of academic scholarships to high school students and a performance of the play "Trashing The King," which tells the story of Memphis sanitation workers in 1968.
King was in Memphis on April 4 that year supporting those workers, who were on strike, when he was killed.
"It is so good to see such a cross section of people and any program that gives young people a little bit of attention because that is what my life was," said Christine O. Jackson, former director of the YWCA of Greater Charleston and Coretta Scott King's cousin.
One of the honorees, The Rev. Randolph Miller, pastor at Nichols Chapel AME Church in downtown Charleston, said he learned of his nomination about two months ago.
"I'm just blown away," Miller said.
Like Williams, Miller hopes the event will have a positive impact on youth.
"The millennials need to know that it's not just about them, that it's about your community," he said. "Whatever you're doing should be something positive to help the growth of that community. ... You've got to think about everyone around you."
Admission is free. For more information about the event, visit its Facebook page: The 50th Year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Tribute.