On the day set aside to honor a legend of the past, local and national leaders gathered in Columbia to focus on the future.
The observances of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day included the annual King Day at the Dome. More than 2,000 people gathered at the State House for the event, along with eight Democratic presidential candidates. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren were on hand, and all but Buttigieg spoke to the crowd.
Rep. James Clyburn also spoke, reflecting on the rally’s beginnings as a protest of the display of the Confederate flag on the grounds of the State House.
“The flag was only a symbol of something, and that of which it was a symbol is with us today,” Clyburn. “We still have a job to do.”
Later Monday afternoon, several hundred people gathered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park near Five Points for the city of Columbia’s 32nd annual commemoration of the life of Dr. King. University of South Carolina Professor Bobby Donaldson delivered the keynote address, and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin also addressed the crowd.
“Activism without action is just a conversation,” Benjamin said. “Our future is bright only if we are intentional about making it bright.”
Established as a federal holiday in 1983 and as a South Carolina state holiday in 2000, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January each year. The late civil rights leader was born Jan. 15, 1929.