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Charitable Giving

Not to be forgotten: an employee story of family, civil rights and history

Kasey St. John

It’s powerful to say you’ve walked into the same buildings, maybe even in the same footsteps, as some of our country’s great leaders. One person who has had the opportunity to walk in those steps is Williams employee, Kelly Adams.

As a page and a lobbyist at the state capitol in South Carolina, Adams worked where decades before her ancestors could not.

“My grandmother was a domestic worker who put six children through school so that I could have these opportunities,” said Adams, managing director, State Government and Regulatory Affairs. “My family’s story is one of so many where others have helped pave the way for opportunity.”

The University of South Carolina’s Center for Civil Rights History and Research is helping to share stories like Kelly’s through oral histories and educational programs.

As a University of South Carolina alumna, Kelly also has a soft spot for the work her alma mater and the Center are doing.

“The stories of Civil Rights are just as valuable to tell today as they were decades ago,” said Adams. “We watch the news and see stories like that of Breonna Taylor or George Floyd and it is my hope that the work the Center for Civil Rights can do will educate, inform and impact social injustices.”

Williams recently committed $1.5M to fund the Center’s preservation of stories, along with efforts like a traveling exhibit and permanent collection.

Adams’ passion and the Williams drive to support its communities led to this foundational donation.

“We are thankful that Kelly brought this project to our attention,” said Laura Creekmur, vice president, Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility. “It is very empowering that our employees can make a big impact and a major difference through our Corporate Giving Program.”

With Williams’ donation, stories of our country’s Civil Rights history can be gathered and archived so that they are not only used for education but never forgotten as a critical part of who we are. Watch as Kelly speaks about her connection to this project and the Williams donation.