Hundreds celebrate at Statewide Black History Parade and Festival

Next City event is Feb. 20

It was a day of celebration of commemoration, with a theme of unity.

Hundreds of people of many races gathered Saturday in Columbia’s Five Points for the 13th Annual Statewide Black History Parade and Festival.

Buffalo Soldiers. (Photos by Allen Wallace.)

“Black history is everyone’s history. We’re all one country and we have to work together if we’re ever going to move forward,” said Jayna Hayden,. She brought her three children to see the parade come down Harden Street. “The children need to know where we came from.”

Civil rights leader and activist James Felder served as grand marshal for the parade, with Curtis Wilson taking on the master of ceremonies role from the grandstand.

Leading the parade were the “Unity in the Community Walkers,” a diverse group including Deputy Chief Melron Kelly of the Columbia Police Department. The Keenan High School and Benedict College bands performed, along with the Claflin University dance team. Mascots including the Columbia Fireflies.

Mason and the Chick-fil- A cow also marched, entertaining the crowds gathered along Harden Street.

The parade included residents from Ward One, a historically black Columbia area.

There also was a group of the South Carolina Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers, that set up a display of historical items at the festival which followed at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Greene Street in Five Points.

“We’re here to keep the history alive,” said John Williams, constitution and bylaw chair for the chapter. “If we don’t tell the story, nobody else will.”

Benedict Band.

Williams said he is concerned about the interest of younger generations in history, and who will continue to keep the stories of the past alive.

“We take advantage of things like this to tell the story. Our problem is now, we’re getting kind of old,”

he said. “We need younger people to tell the story, but we’re going to keep on telling it as long as we can.”

The City of Columbia will host another commemoration of Black History Month Feb. 20 at Greenview

Park. More details are available at the city’s website.