The rally, sponsored by the S.C. NAACP, drew more than 1,200 to the State House’s north plaza, where the battle flag flies as part of a Confederate soldier monument. A 2000 legislative compromise moved the flag from the State House dome to the monument, but the NAACP wants the flag removed from the grounds entirely.
The rally’s most heated moment came early, when S.C. NAACP president Lonnie Randolph spoke of a December formal ball in Charleston marking the 150th anniversary of the state’s secession. The celebration was an insult, Randolph said, similar to celebrating the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or holding a 9/11 party.
The King Day rally, held on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, has served as a way to mark the slain civil rights leader’s legacy, as well as renew efforts to remove the flag from the State House grounds and maintain the NAACP’s tourism boycott of the state until the flag is gone.
This year’s rally also focused on S.C. efforts to pass an immigration bill modeled after a controversial Arizona law. That law, the constitutionality of which is being challenged in federal court, allows law enforcement officers to stop and check the citizenship documents of suspected illegal immigrants.
Separately, some members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have proposed repealing parts of the 14th Amendment that grant citizenship to anyone born in the United States.
The 14th Amendment, noted Wade Henderson, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights advocate, was ratified, in part, to ensure freed slaves were citizens after the Civil War.
“When you hear people talking about segregating out a group of people,” Henderson told the crowd, “you better listen.”
King Day at the Dome 2011, Columbia, S.C.
From: C.M. Sullivan
Subject: Geo. Washington banned from NAACP rally
Date: Monday, January 17, 2011, 2:17 PM
The annual MLK observance at the state house in Columbia SC had an interesting twist this year. The event is held on the north side steps of the statehouse. Prominent at that location is a large bronze statue of George Washington. This year, the NAACP constructed a “box” to conceal the Father of His Country from view so that participants would not be offended by his presence.