Politics take center stage at King Day at the Dome rally

Allen Wallace photos.

Hundreds of people endured a frigid morning in Columbia to attend the annual King Day at the Dome rally, and heard a U.S. senator declare that despite the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., racism remains alive in the nation and in its leadership.

“It gives me no pleasure to tell you we now have a president of the United States who is a racist,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told the assembled crowd at the State House. The former presidential candidate, expected by many experts to run again in 2020, focused his speech on what he called race and income-based inequalities in the U.S., calling for free college education and automatic voter registration for all those eligible.

The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sanders’ accusation that President Donald Trump is a racist.

Sanders was one of several federal legislators in Columbia Monday. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, also a potential presidential candidate, spoke just before Sanders at the rally. Booker did not mention Trump specifically, but spoke of dissatisfaction with the current state of the nation.

“We are gathered together in the cold right now because we are dissatisfied,” he said. “We need each other in this nation. We need people who are going to put the indivisible back in this one nation under God.”

Rep. James Clyburn, the U.S. House majority whip, returned home to South Carolina for the rally, focusing on injustice, quoting King’s saying that “The people of ill will in our society make a much better use of time than the people of good will.”

“Let’s not allow the the people of ill will to control the future of this country,” Clyburn said.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin also spoke, thanking the NAACP and other groups who organized the annual rally as well as all those who attended.

“We are indeed, make no doubt about it, the greatest democratic nation in the history of the world. We are that because of you and the work that you continue to do every single day,” Benjamin said. “Make no doubt about it: the road to the White House starts in South Carolina.”

The rally included numerous other speakers as well as songs from the Fairfield Central High School Honors Choir.

Categories: Columbia, Elections, Richland County