South Carolina

SC’s King Day at the Dome returns in person for first time since pandemic began

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) — Hundreds of people gathered outside the South Carolina State House Monday to pay tribute to the legacy of Dr. To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. and to reflect on how it can be continued.

Monday’s “King Day at the Dome” marked the first time the annual Columbia event has been held in person since the pandemic began.

The last in-person event was in 2020, just before the First in the South state presidential primary, and several Democrats running for president that year were in attendance, including current President Joe Biden.

The keynote speaker at this year’s event was Congressman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi. Thompson recently chaired the US House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 riot.

“If Martin were here today, he would say, ‘Thank God for these guys in South Carolina. You haven’t forgotten my dream. You keep this dream alive. Thank God for the work they continue to do,'” Thompson said.

But, Thompson added, that work isn’t done yet.

He and other speakers at King Day in the Dome urged South Carolina residents to learn from history.

“We have to keep fighting forward. We can’t go to sleep. Actually, I think we slept too long. We have to wake up. We have a lot to do,” said Brenda Murphy, president of the NAACP South Carolina State Conference.

The motto of this year’s event was “Once it happened, it can happen again.”

Before the State House rally, participants marched down the main street of Colombia, following the same route taken by hundreds of African-American students to protest against racial segregation in 1961, at the height of the civil rights movement. Almost 200 people were arrested that day for disturbing the peace.

“When we see the water receding, we cannot fall asleep. We can’t stand still. We cannot be apathetic. We can’t wait until the presidential election. We must rally our people and our troops now. We have to register people to vote. We must act now!” State Rep. Ivory Thigpen, D-Richland, said.

Other speakers encouraged crowds to vote in future elections and warned that there are consequences for not voting.

One mentioned several black state officials who lost their State House seats last November, and several speakers, including Thompson, noted how a federal court recently ruled that South Carolina’s new congressional map, which had been drawn by the state’s legislature, was racist manipulation after the NAACP complained about it.

“We need to push our lawmakers to change things that need changing that are important to our community,” said Courtney McClain, president of the NAACP South Carolina State Conference Youth and College Division.

King’s Day at the Dome began more than 20 years ago as a protest against the Confederate flag being flown atop the dome of the South Carolina State House.

The event continued after the flag was finally removed from the State House grounds in 2015, and on Monday some speakers lamented the presence of Confederate monuments and statues that remain on the grounds

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