Pictured from left to right: Terence Hassan, John Miller, Rev. Ankoma Anderson, Dr. Stuart Sprague, Dr. Michael Seemuller, Juana Slade, Kevin Williams, and Dr. James Noble.

AALS Dream Awards Gala
The African American Leadership Society of United Way hosted the AALS Dream Awards Gala on Friday, June 16, 2023. The evening was hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn in Anderson, SC and the keynote speaker was Angela Williams, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide. AAR&RI was honored during the evenings award ceremony with a special recognition for their work in the community.

Statement About Award Presentation from Awards Program

In early 2020, a group of community members in Anderson County, South Carolina formed the Anderson Area Remembrance and Reconciliation Initiative (AAR&RI.)

The goal of the group is to honor the five known victims of racial terror lynching in Anderson County by reflecting more honestly on the history and legacy of racial and economic injustice. AAR&I is working in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, to raise awareness and inspire action through dialogue, community education, and public memorials to eliminate disparities and move us toward the goal of a “Beloved Community.”

AAR&RI has commissioned a work of art honoring the five known Anderson County victims of racial terror lynching: Mr. Edward Sullivan (1894), Mr. Elbert Harris (1898), Mr. John Laddison (1901), Mr. Reuben Elrod (1903), Mr. Willis Jackson (1911). To date donations to AAR&I have exceeded more than $70,000, most notably a very generous investment from Duke Energy South Carolina.

AAR&RI is partnering with designer and artist Anderson native Herman Keith, Jr. Keith and his team have a vision to “take the story to the people” in a powerful way to educate, evoke empathy and inspire movement toward a more just society. This world class exhibit has been in residence at Welfare Baptist Church in Belton and the Pendleton Library. Residencies are scheduled through Summer 2024. The Sculpture’s third residency is in the Oglesby Center Atrium on the AnMed North Campus. The story of AAR&I is on permanent display at the Anderson County Museum.

Over 100 volunteers have been a part of this reconciliatory effort. For more information please visit remberanceanderson.org. Steering and Communications committees: Stuart Sprague, John Miller, Rev. Ankoma Anderson, Rusty Burns, Terence Roberts, Emily DeRoberts, Dr. Michael Seemuller, Andrea Seemuller, Dr. James Noble, Kevin Williams, Bobby Rettew, Herman Keith, and Beth Batson.