By Barney Blakeney
January 21, an anticipated crowd of several thousand are expected to converge at the S.C. Statehouse for the 19th annual King Day at the Dome in Columbia. The first King Day at the Dome was held January 2000 to protest the Confederate Flag flying over the S.C. Statehouse Capitol building. The theme for this year’s rally is “Education First: Illuminating Eliminating the Path To Change”. U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Sen. Bernie Sanders and S.C. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter will be keynote speakers.
The 2019 King Day at the Dome schedule is as follows: Sunday, January 20-Columbia Branch NAACP MLK Heritage Program, 4 p.m. at Zion Baptist Church, 801 Washington St.; Monday, January 21-S.C. NAACP Conference of Branches MLK Prayer Service, 8:30 a.m. Zion Baptist Church; march line-up, 9:30 a.m. at Zion Baptist Church; King Day at the Dome Rally, 10:00 a.m. at the Statehouse Steps.
Speaker for Sunday’s MLK Heritage Program will be Bishop Roderick Sumter of Moncks Corner, Rev. Susie Hinton of Rock Hill, Rev. Patsy Craig Malanuk of Columbia and Rev. Henry Poinsett of Orangeburg. Rev. Dr. Andrew Davis pastor of Zion Baptist Church will preside. Rev. Shawn Johnson, pastor of Hill Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Marion, will be speaker at Monday’s prayer service.
S.C. NAACP Conference of Branches President Brenda Murphy said the rally’s focus on education is important because improving public education in South Carolina will take concerted and collaborative effort from legislators, school boards, superintendents and individual community members. All must work together, she said, to increase graduation rates, eliminate zero tolerance policies that disproportionately affect minority students and to develop and implement comprehensive plans that insure students’ success after high school graduation.
“Education and equality are integrated as we encourage everyone to become politically engaged,” she said.