On January 20 participants from around the state and nation are expected to converge at the South Carolina Statehouse for the 14th annual S.C. Conference of NAACP Branches’ King Day at the Dome. Coordinators are unsure how many participants will be there, but the conference remains committed to addressing issues of social injustice and civil rights, said President Dr. Lonnie Randolph.
The first King Day at the Dome was held to emphasize the conference’s boycott of the state’s tourism industry announced in July of 1999 that began to protest the Confederate flag position atop the S.C. Statehouse.
To highlight the effort the NAACP planned a mass march on the statehouse on the national observance of Martin L. King Jr.’s birthday. The protest also would be a call for legislators to create a state holiday in honor of Dr. King.
The South Carolina Legislature voted to create the holiday and remove the flag from the dome to the Statehouse steps in 2000, but the NAACP has continued its opposition to the Confederate flag remaining on the Statehouse grounds. A march and rally has been held each January drawing considerably less support annually. he Monday rally will be preceded by an 11:30 a.m. Friday Memorial Wreath Laying ceremony at Martin L. King Jr. Park in Five Points. On Sunday the Columbia Branch NAACP will hold its annual MLK Memorial program 4 p.m. at Zion Baptist Church, 801 Washington St. in downtown Columbia where North Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches President Dr. William Barber will be featured speaker.
A contingent from Detroit, Mich. led by WCHB-AM radio talk show host Mildred Gaddis also is expected at the program. Randolph noted among the guests from Michigan will be a 97-year-old woman who still wants to do something to make a difference in the lives of others.
Also at the program will be national NAACP interim President and CEO Lorraine Miller, former National Field Director Rev. Nelson Rivers and members of the NAACP national staff.
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