The state chapter of the NAACP will hold its 10th annual King at the Dome rally at the State House in Columbia on January 18th in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. President of the National NAACP Benjamin Jealous will be the featured speaker for the rally which is scheduled to begin shortly after 10 am. Jealous was scheduled to speak at last year’s event, but inclement weather kept him from Columbia. In announcing the event during a Thursday press conference, State NAACP Conference President Lonnie Randolph outlined a number of goals of the state organization has for 2010, including involving more minority citizens in voting and seeking to get a greater response from minority communities during this year’s census count.
Randolph says the main goal of the rally is to continue to send a strong message calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds: “As Dr. King so eloquently stated on many occasions, ‘Injustice is a threat to justice anywhere.'” To that end Randolph adds that “one of the greatest injustices is this state’s endorsement and continuing support to fly a symbol of bigotry, hatred, and white supremacy on the grounds of the people of South Carolina.”
Randolph says contrary to what many believe, the state NAACP’s decade long tourism and conference and NCAA Championship events’ boycott of the state over the Confederate flag issue continues to be viable and has many supporters. “The NCAA has a large following. the black Baptists have a large following. The other religious denominations have large followings. The Disciples of Christ have a million members, and they support us. The publishers support us. The SEC is not a small group, and neither is the ACC. So we have real food support 10 year later, 10 years later.”
In July 2009, the Atlantic Coast Conference decided against allowing Myrtle Beach to host the conference baseball tournament because of the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the state capitol. Myrtle Beach was awarded the 2011-13 tournaments in May of 2009.
Randolph says all but one of the 10 current 2010 South Carolina gubernatorial candidates appeared at the State NAACP convention in Charlotte in October and while the NAACP is not in the business of endorsing any party or candidate, Randolph says there is a clear difference among the major parties on the Confederate Flag issue. “Every democratic candidate has stated very clearly and succinctly that the flag doesn’t need to be on the Statehouse grounds becuse of the respect they have for all the people of this state. On the other side of that all the republicans has stated that it needs to stay right where it is, all of them. It doesn’t matter what their ranking is, they’ve all sent the same message.”