The traditional capstone of the Celebration, the 22nd Annual MLK Summit—formerly known as the Annual MLK Business and Professional Breakfast—will open the MLK Celebration this year. It will be held from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 13, as a hybrid virtual and in-person event live-cast from the Camden Room of the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Noted philanthropist and business leader Anita Zucker, the Summit’s 2021 keynote speaker, will chair the event. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg will serve as honorary chair.
Keynoting the Summit will be U.S. Ambassador William E. Kennard, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union in 2009 and as FCC chair by President Bill Clinton in 1997, he became well known for advocating for people at risk of being stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide. U.S. News & World Report dubbed him “a consumer champion for the digital age.”
Presiding over the FCC during a historic time, he shaped policies that created an explosion of new wireless phones and brought the Internet to a majority of American households. He also implemented policies to bridge the digital divide, including bringing the Internet to disadvantaged schools and libraries, dramatically expanding access to communications technologies for people with disabilities, and increasing phone service to rural areas, especially Native Americans living on tribal lands. He also worked to create more ownership and employment opportunities for women and minorities in the communications sector.
A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School who divides his time between Charleston, S.C. and Washington, D.C., Ambassador Kennard holds honorary degrees from Howard University, Gallaudet University, and Long Island University, and awards from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Easter Seals Foundation, and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He is chair of the board of directors of AT&T, Inc., a member of the boards of Ford Motor Company and MetLife, Inc., and a member of the boards of trustees of Yale University and the International African American Museum in Charleston.
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