First responders hit the court to celebrate Black History Month

Allen Wallace photos.

The competition on the court was fierce, but ultimately all the players were on the same side Sunday as state officials and first responders from Columbia and Richland County joined other members of the community to celebrate Black History Month through basketball.

The Black History Month Basketball Tournament at Columbia’s Greenview Park featured teams from the Columbia Police Department, Columbia Fire Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the South Carolina Highway Patrol, along with a Hot Shot competition for young people.

“This is really a great opportunity for us to engage with some of our young adults and allow them to see us in a different light than when we’re in uniform,” said Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook as he watched his team take on the Fire Department.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said the event is always fun, adding that he enjoys the friendly trash talk between the first responders. However, the mayor added that there is a larger purpose, especially with the tournament happening in February.

“Every opportunity to celebrate the diversity of America is powerful, particularly this month when we celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans in this great country,” Benjamin said. “In 2019 Americans get their news and inspiration from so many different sources. So every which way we can celebrate the things that make us stronger, we need to do it, and this is a chance to do it. Use the power of sports.”

The tournament was free and open to the public. Information on future community events is available at

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