Martin Luther King Jr. Event

Martin Luther King, Jr. Event

2022 MLK Event Canceled

It is with deep regret that we have decided to cancel our Martin Luther King, Jr., event that was scheduled for January 18. We look forward to celebrating again next year—hopefully with an in-person event bringing our community back together.

This annual partnership with the Thurston Group of Washington State has always held a special place in our community and is our opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., showcase those who are continuing his work today, and honor local students, organizations, and community members who are supporting access to education for local students of color.

We want to extend our sincere appreciation for the ongoing support of the Thurston Group of Washington State, especially Barbara and Virgil Clarkson, our long-time event sponsors including OlyFed and Panorama, and all of the tremendous community supporters who continue to show up for students of color in our community.

Beyond this annual event, SPSCC is continuing the legacy of the Thurston Group. Through supportive programs like IGNITE and Black Scholars, programming and education in our A. Barbara Clarkson Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Center, and diversity and equity scholarship support from the SPSCC Foundation, we work to ensure that all students feel welcome here and have what they need to succeed in higher education.

Give to diversity and equity programs at SPSCC   explore anti-racism resources to grow yourself   Donate to Thurston Group scholarships

Event Sponsors

Video: A Special Message from OlyFed










PAST - 2021 event recap: An Evening with john a. powell

While we were not able to record the live event with john a. powell, you can download the presentation (PDF) and check out other event videos on this page.

Headshot of john a. powell in black blazerjohn a. powell is Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute and Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University. His latest book is Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

About the Song

Lift Every Voice and Sing is a hymn often called the "Black national anthem". The hymn was written as a poem by civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson with music by his brother J. Rosamond Johnson for Abraham Lincoln's birthday in 1905. It is a prayer of thanksgiving, faithfulness, and freedom that the NAACP dubbed "the Negro national anthem" in 1919 for its power in voicing a cry for liberation and affirmation for African American people.

In normal years, the lyrics are provided to each banquet attendee and we sing its powerful message together.


Lift Every Voice and Sing

‘Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

The Thurston Group of Washington State

Video: Looking Back: The Thurston Group and SPSCC’s MLK Banquet

The name “Thurston Group” was first used in 1994 when Larry A. Jenkins, a bus driver from North Thurston Public Schools, and nine male students from the school district attended a Black Orientation Leadership Development (BOLD) Conference, at Washington State University. The name later evolved into The Thurston Group of Washington State (TTGWS).

Under the direction of Mr. Jenkins, the nine founding members of TTGWS, including African Americans and Native Americans, came together to support events and activities that have played a pivotal role in recruiting students throughout the Pacific Northwest to Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the United States. The organization is supported by all volunteers who meet with local school districts, parents, students, community organizations and chaperone local trips and national tours to HBCUs.

In 1996 TTGWS registered as a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization in Washington State. That year TTGWS also formed a dynamic partnership with South Puget Sound Community College. This partnership took on the monumental task of forming and sponsoring its own Students of Color College and University Recruiting Weekend.

From 1996 – 2013 TTGWS successfully recruited approximately 800 students to attend HBCUs and colleges and universities across Washington State. During that time over six million dollars in scholarships were offered to Pacific Northwest high school and second year community college students.

Over the past 23 years, TTGWS has developed relationships and partnerships that have benefited Pacific Northwest students from Vancouver, Canada, to Eugene, Oregon. TTGWS believes that in order to help our youth gain access to the best possible education, we must provide monetary assistance and promote a diverse and competitive education environment. With the help of many individuals and institutional partners, the Thurston Group of Washington State’s greatest success is in helping students of color move on to higher education with monies to support their dreams.

Remembering Larry Jenkins

Sept. 17, 1940 - Dec. 19, 2020

Photo of studio photo of Larry Jenkins wearing a sweater and glasses against a blue backdropLarry Alvin Jenkins was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 17,1940, to Kerney Julius Jenkins and Evelyn Davis Jenkins. His parents preceded him in death. Larry was of the Christian faith and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he graduated from Southern University Laboratory High School. He went on to attend Southern University for a few years and was united in matrimony to Alma Barthelemy on June 3, 1961. Their union was blessed with two daughters, Rachel and Larrie. In 1967 Larry moved his family to Chicago, Illinois where he earned a certificate in Building Construction and Supervision from Chicago Technical College. Larry later moved back to Louisiana, lived in Texas, and eventually settled in Lacey, Washington in 1986.

Learn more about Larry's life and impact >.

Video: Inspiring Alumni Stories

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at SPSCC

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Center

DEIC - The A. Barbara Clarkson Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Center (DEIC) is committed to supporting the college mission to advance equity and embrace diversity. All students are welcome. When you visit the DEIC, you’ll engage with a diverse group, be part of an inclusive culture, and get support for your own educational goals and development.

Black Scholars Program

Black Scholars Program - The Black Scholars Program helps Black and African American students get through college and graduate by offering mentorship, community, and support services tailored to unique needs around racial identity.

This year, The Thurston Group awarded scholarships to two Black Scholars students.

Podcast: The Unheard Outsider

Podcast: The Unheard Outsider - The Unheard Outsider is a space that invites uncomfortable conversations surrounding higher education and social justice. With weekly episodes on Wednesday, tune in on PodBean and join the conversation.

Office of Diversity & Equity

Office of Diversity & Equity - SPSCC is a learning community that embodies social justice, equity, and inclusion through all of its work and the Office of Diversity & Equity. SPSCC seeks to empower students, faculty and staff to fully participate in a society of increasingly diverse identities and experiences. SPSCC actively works to eliminate all forms of discrimination and provide an education that reflects the diversity of our community and a deeper understanding of the dynamics of power and privilege that perpetuate inequity and inequality.