COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina is celebrating the life and accomplishments of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The day started with a prayer service at Zion Baptist Church in downtown Columbia led by North Carolina NAACP president William Barber.
Those celebrating his life and legacy packed the pews in the church and the streets outdoors. "People need to continue to remember that Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who sacrificed a lot, gave a lot, and we can't let that die," stated Pastor Alice Ridgill, "We have to remember our advances are because of him. We cannot let his dream die."
One thing the NAACP and people attending Monday's march had in common was that they were all different. They were different in the parts of the country they were from, different in the social status they may hold, and different in the color of their skin. "We all should meet in the true spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., in peace and civil dreams," said attendee Elaine Cooper, "It's incredible. Fantastic how much his legacy has poured over."
"I hope that this stirs things up in them that maybe were dead before," expressed attendee Kirklyn Martin, "To get everyone working towards one common goal, and that's unity."
It's a goal that people at the service said they would continue to work toward through prayer - in the spirit of the late civil rights leader.
Attendees then marched to the State House for the annual King Day at the Dome event.
Speakers include Rev. Lonnie Randolph of the South Carolina NAACP, Rev. Brenda Kneece of the South Carolina Action Council and actor Blair Underwood. Randolph said he would denounce the celebratory tone of some Civil War anniversary events.
The state NAACP chapter has organized the rally since 2000, when 50,000 people called for the Confederate flag to be removed from atop the State House dome. Lawmakers approved moving the flag that year to the Confederate Soldier Monument on Statehouse grounds.
Barber repeatedly shouted "take down that flag" to rounds of applause. He said when South Carolinians are disrespected, people in North Carolina and around the country are also disrespected.
Sons of Confederate Veterans division commander Mark Simpson says the soldier's flag is at a place that honors their ancestors who fought and died, and the group will continue to defend it.
Governor Nikki Haley also paused in remembrance of Dr. King Monday.
She released the following statement about Martin Luther King Junior, Day: "Today, I join all South Carolinians in honoring and remembering Dr. King's dream, where every citizen blessed to live in America continues to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities of this great nation at its best."
Inside Antisdel Chapel at Benedict College, ten young men - called "Brother's in Song" - sang in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. "Dr. King, he had a dream, and like many of us we have dreams," said member Carlos Brown, "And his testimony, his life was a testimony to passion, and he stood up for what he believed in. And that's what we're doing tonight."
"Prayer" is the name of the song. The message is about hope and faith. They're ideals many said Dr. King lived by.
Hundreds of people are expected Monday at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King preached before his death. King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, delivers the keynote address. His family will also lay a wreath at the tomb of King and his widow, Coretta Scott King.
Monday is the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday set aside to honor King.