MLK Day puts Columbia, S.C., in the spotlight
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 1/18/16, 11:15 am
Today is the 30th anniversary of the federal holiday celebrating the life of Civil Rights leader and pastor Martin Luther King Jr. Amid celebrations across the country, many activists and politicians have joined a rally in Columbia, S.C., where this year the state removed the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds.
Since 2000, people in Columbia have marched to the Statehouse annually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to call for the flag’s removal. This year, the rally focuses on education equality, and the three main Democratic presidential candidates are planning to attend.
Republicans have gathered in Columbia recently, too, at a forum on poverty solutions hosted Jan. 9 by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Seven GOP presidential candidates attended, but front-runners Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump skipped the event. Ryan invited Robert Woodson, a community development leader, to attend both the forum in Columbia and the State of the Union address last week.
In a 1994 speech, Woodson talked about the beliefs that undergirded King’s leadership, including the belief that God seeks to redeem and transform people and the understanding that personal responsibility is essential to the effective functioning of society.
“If Dr. King were alive today, he would stand here and in pulpits throughout this country and give a message of redemption to young people,” Woodson said. “He would say to them that the victimizer might have knocked you down, but it is the victim that has to get up.”
Listen to an excerpt from Woodson’s speech about civil rights on The World and Everything in It.