Historical markers tell history of civil rights movement in Colu - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Historical markers tell history of civil rights movement in Columbia

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What may take someone just a moment to read, organizers say took a year to put together. But now civil rights history in the Capital City is captured in permanent reminders on Main Street.

"They are the sign posts that show us the way from a bitter yesterday to a brighter tomorrow," said Columbia City Council Member Brian DeQuincey Newman.

And there are nine of them, wayside signs put together by the civil rights initiative, Columbia SC 63. Each sign tells a different story.

"In March of 1961, 200 black students rallied on the state house ground to protest state segregation laws," said South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Jean Toal. "The charges were simple breach of the peace, but the stakes were much much higher."

From courthouse convictions that would one day be overturned, to sit-in protests fighting for desegregation of local businesses.

"We dared not to break the law, but to change the culture," said Rev. Moses Javis, a veteran of the civil rights movement.

And while civil rights veterans say there's still progress to be made, many believe the future will be shaped by an understanding of the past.

"We really have a duty to study these stories so that we ensure that the rights and protections that were provided by the 14th amendment for all citizens are upheld as we make our own footprint today," said Robin Waites, Director of the Historic Columbia Foundation.

Saturday Columbia SC 63 will give three bus tours of important civil rights sites and landmarks in downtown Columbia at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.  The tours are free, but seating is limited.

Click here for information on the tours and a map of historic sites in downtown Columbia.

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