Columbia Star

S.C. NAACP celebrates 2020 King Day at the Dome


Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin speaks at 2020 King Day at the Dome.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin speaks at 2020 King Day at the Dome.

The South Carolina NAACP King Day at the Dome began with a prayer service at Zion Baptist Church, 801 Washington Street. Following the service, hundreds of people, including seven visiting Democratic presidential candidates, gathered together behind the banner of the S.C. NAACP to march to the South Carolina State House in remembrance of the brave civil rights activists who took those steps themselves March 2, 1961, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina.

The historical march from Zion Baptist Church to the South Carolina State House in 1961, is described as follows:

“Columbia’s student movement peaked on March 2, 1961, as NAACP leaders and over 200 students left Zion Baptist Church and conducted a ‘noisy demonstration’ on the South Carolina State House grounds. The students, mostly from South Carolina’s historically black colleges and segregated high schools, marched and sang ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and protest songs such as ‘We Shall Not Be Moved.’ Among the 187 arrested were NAACP leaders Rev. I. DeQuincey Newman and B. J. Glover, along with future Congressman James Clyburn.” (www.columbiasc63.com)

March from Zion Baptist Church to South Carolina State House, January 20, 2020

March from Zion Baptist Church to South Carolina State House, January 20, 2020

Participating in the 2020 march were former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Pete Buttigieg, and Senator Amy Klobuchar. South Carolinians running for congress, including Jaime Harrison and Adair Ford Boroughs, also participated in the march. Leaders of the South Carolina NAACP and its local chapters led the march and were followed by hundreds of supporters of the NAACP and the presidential candidates. Senator Warren later shared, “Today I walked down this street with optimism because I feel hope; I see hope.”

The Honorable Steven K. Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, was one of the first speakers for the 2020 King Day at the Dome. Mayor Benjamin said, “This is an amazing time at an amazing place. We are facing a fork in the road in the history of this great country, and we know the road that we must take. We (those who sit here on this stage) may not know who you are right now but God sees each of us for who we are. God knows where we are going together. Columbia, S.C. is indeed a place that we all call home.”

James Gallman, member of the NAACP National Board of Directors and former president of the South Carolina NAACP, shared the theme of the South Carolina Conference of the NAACP for the 2020 King Day at the Dome, “We Vote. We Count. Our Voices Matter.” Gallman also shared the theme of the national NAACP is “When We Fight, We Win.” Gallman stated, “We gather today to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work and to recommit ourselves to carry his work forward this day and every day of our lives.”

Jaime Harrison, candidate for the U.S. Senate, said, “This day is a reflection of Dr. King’s legacy, and that reflection is about the millions of voices who have been calling out for equality and justice across this nation. Here in South Carolina, we heard those voices. We heard them on the campuses of black colleges in my hometown of Orangeburg. We heard those voices in the movie theatres of Greenville, at the lunch counters of Rock Hill, and here on the streets of Columbia. In the face of hate, the soldiers of hope sat up and they marched in solidarity. In the face of unrelenting segregation, they clung to hope. Hope that all Americans, as Dr. King said, can sit down together at that table of brotherhood.”

Each of the Democratic presidential candidates took the opportunity to talk with those in attendance.

Senator Bernie Sanders said, “Our job is not to just remember the history of Dr. King, it is to absorb his revolutionary spirit and apply it today and that means we will fight racism in every part of American society. Dr. King understood that the triple evils of American society were racism, poverty, and militarism.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden shared, “We don’t celebrate Dr. King just for his dream. We celebrate him for the sacrifices, the hard work and the determination, and above all for his actions.”

Representatives from the 2020 Census, The League of Women Voters of the Columbia Area, the South Carolina NAACP, and each of the Presidential candidates’ campaign volunteers sponsored booths with information and opportunities for voter registration at the 2020 King Day at the Dome.

One response to “S.C. NAACP celebrates 2020 King Day at the Dome”

  1. Joseph says:

    South Carolina’s civil rights history is rich and needs to be understood by all. This was by far the best speech of the day: youtu.be/hK5jzElLzTQ

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