ColumbiaSC63: Our Story Matters

New initiative highlights Columbia's contribution to civil rights


By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- During City of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin's State of the City Address this week, he mentioned a new initiative to recognize the city's integral part in the Civil Rights movement. That project is unveiled.

It is no secret to the people who live in Columbia that the Capitol City played a major role in the 1963 Civil Rights movement.

"Columbia is a place of remarkabale Civil Rights history."
"It's a place as one of the important battlefields of the Civil Rights movement."
"We need to tell the story of Columbia and what it meant to us, our community."

Now, the nation will know it, thanks to a new year-long initiative to uncover Columbia's ground breaking contributions to that monumental era. It's called, Columbia SC 63, Our Story Matters.

"Columbia SC 63 will explore the remarkable accounts of strength, determination and sacrifice that determine how and why our story matters," said Executive Director of the Historic Columbia Foundation.

City leaders kicked off the commemorative 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights movement Thursday at Zion Baptist Church.

"Stepping out of the shadows to place Columbia alongside cities like Birmingham, Jackson, Memphis, and Montgomery," said city of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

"Most references got to MLK, Rosa Parks who did great things they did, but it was here in South Carolina that was at the forefront. We were at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement before it was even called the Civil Rights movement," said photographer Cecil Williams.

"Wherever you were in that movement, it took enormous courage to take the risk, the first step and meet your brothers and sisters across the aisle of race and say we're putting an end to the way of living as human beings," said Chief Justice Jean Toal.

Organizers say the project connects Columbia's past, present and future.

"The only way this project will advance is if we work together to gather material, to I.D. those who witnessed what occurred to preserve this legacy for all who remain."

That's where you come in through an interactive website. You can post post pictures, video and share stories of that time in Columbia's history. the website is
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