COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - John Washington is no stranger to braving the chilly temperatures on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Every year for the last 20 years, he's attended the King Day at the Dome in downtown Columbia.
"This country, this state bares almost no resemblance from what is was like when I was a kid," he went on to say, "Don't misunderstand me -- this country, this city, are far from perfect but it's far from what it was."
“A coalition of local organizations started the event in 2000 in reaction to lawmakers keeping the Confederate Flag on top of the State House.”
Every year since the event draws a crowd to downtown Columbia. They take part in a prayer service at a nearby church, march down Main Street and hold a rally at the State House.
Washington said, "We want to put another stone in the water so those who come after us will be able to walk over it."
Jada Mosley attended her first King Day at the Dome. She said for her the event is all about remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "There is still more work to be done but we need to continue his legacy," she said.
Paige Moten said his words inspire her, especially on a day like today. "Martin Luther King did so much for the black community and Americans in general," she said.
This year, seven presidential candidates spoke to the crowd (LINK ADAM'S STORY). Moten said she is still making up her mind for who she will vote for in February's First in the South Democratic Presidential Primary.
Mosley will be voting for the first time ever this year. She said she is paying close attention to which candidate has a plan to make higher education more affordable. “People in poverty, the less fortunate, can’t afford to get an education but you can’t make it in life without getting an education so that’s the most important issue to me,” she said.