African American Leadership Society

The Start of a Movement


The Diversity Council of United Way of Anderson County began in February 2006 as an idea of JT Boseman, Michael Cunningham and Juana Slade. These three United Way volunteers decided that a movement needed to take place to get more African Americans involved in philanthropic, civic and board activities in Anderson County.  During this time, United Way of Anderson County was in the process of formulating its Community Impact Agenda, a new approach to United Way operations. The Community Impact Agenda is a road map for Anderson on how to meet its most urgent needs and how to connect area strengths and assets with opportunities to improve our community in a measurable way. Thus, “the movement within the movement” was begun.

The first Diversity Council lunch meeting was held at the United Way of Anderson County office in May 2006.  Discussion items included: an overview of the United Way of Anderson County’s proposed transition to Community Impact; opportunities for involvement in the transition process; and the proposal of a Community Service Day honoring slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  On September 8, 2006, it was suggested the name of the Council be changed to the African American Leadership Council (AALC), and on October 6, 2006, the name change was unanimously approved.

On July 1st, 2016, it was decided that members of the African American Leadership Council will take a more financial leadership role in the mission of United Way of Anderson County. It was decided that any African American who donated at the Leadership Giving Society level of $500 and above would automatically be a member of the African American Leadership Society (AALS). This is $19.25 per pay period if you are paid every 2 weeks and can be deducted from you check if your HR Dept. will allow us to set this up with them.

Dream Day Honors Martin Luther King Jr.

Each year the African American Leadership Council host its signature project “MLK DAY ON”, the largest MLK Community Service project in Anderson County. In 2019 the Council voted to change the name to Dream Day. The Saturday before the MLK Holiday, the council engages hundreds of volunteers across the county in giving back to the community by performing various service projects such as renovating community centers, cleaning senior centers, landscaping parks, etc.  

Black History Month Dream Gala

In February, the council recognizes Black History Month with the annual Black History Black Tie Ball, now called the Dream Gala.  At this event, three community awards are presented.  The Emerging Leader Community Award is presented to an individual under the age of 35, who exhibits exemplary professional accomplishments and commitment to service the community. The Community Leader Award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the community through their involvement in volunteer activities and /or their special achievement in specific areas of community and professional life. This individual exemplifies United Way’s core mission of improving our community by providing leadership in identifying needs, securing & leveraging resources and driving action. The Legacy Award recognizes a pioneer in the community, who through the years, has fought, worked, advocated, and produced change through their community service, their voice and their dedication. 

To find out more about being a part of the African American Leadership Society contact Carol Burdette.