By Barney Blakeney
None of the local NAACP branches will sponsor buses to the Jan. 15 annual King Day at the Dome march and rally in Columbia, opting instead to participate in other observances. But the Greater Charleston YWCA will continue its popular King Tribute in typical fashion.
The Charleston Branch NAACP again will not shuttle participants to the event that in the past drew more than 50,000 from around the country. The Charleston NAACP branch has not sponsored an organized trip to the event since its early beginnings. The first King Day at the Dome was held January 2000. Scott said individual members however may participate. The branch’s focus will be on getting out the vote and responses to the recently released Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston report titled “The State of Racial Disparities in Charleston County, South Carolina 2000-2015”.
North Charleston NAACP Branch President Ed Bryant said his chapter also will not sponsor a bus to Columbia. Bryant plans to speak at a 4 p.m. Jan. 14 ecumenical service observing the King Holiday celebration at Victory Baptist Church in North Charleston. The Goose Creek Branch NAACP for several years annually sponsored a bus to Columbia until last year. President Veronica Dukes said it won’t sponsor a bus this year either.
The King Day at the Dome march and rally will be highlighted by a January 15 statewide MLK Prayer Service at 8:30 AM Zion Baptist Church at 801 Washington St. followed by the march line-up at 9:20 a.m. which then will proceed at 10:00 a.m. to the Statehouse steps.
The Greater YWCA of Charleston however will continue its 46-year-old annual tribute to King. This year’s MLK Celebration theme is “One Man, One Dream. Together We Achieve.” YWCA Executive Director LaVanda Brown said the annual tribute’s sustained enthusiasm is not surprising. Charleston embraced the King Tribute even before King’s birthday became a national holiday, she noted. Thousands attend the six major events spread over 10 days that began January 7. Among them are the worship services, the MLK Youth Empowerment Summit, the MLK Youth Speak-Out Poetry Slam, the MLK Ecumenical Service, the MLK Parade which begins on Sumter Street at Burke High School in downtown Charleston and the MLK Breakfast. All events except the breakfast are free and open to the public.
Brown noted the ecumenical service at Morris Street Baptist Church usually is the most attended. Last year, over 600 attended. Some 200 participated in the annual breakfast. Keynote speaker at the ecumenical service will be Michael B. Moore, president and CEO of the International African American Museum. Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, will be keynote speaker at the breakfast.
Among of the most exciting things about this year’s tribute are the Youth Worship Service and Poetry Slam in which some 100 youths are expected to participate, Brown said. Moving forward, the YWCA hopes to have more involvement from our young people and to expand its reach beyond the Charleston region across that state, she said.