King Urged Blacks to Polls in Historic Speech 50 Years Ago

American civil rights campaigner, Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964. Reg Lancaster/Getty Images

American civil rights campaigner, Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964. Reg Lancaster/Getty Images

The City of Columbia is accepting nominations for the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Keeper Scholarship Awards. Getty Images

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The 50th anniversary of an historic speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr urging blacks to vote is being marked in rural South Carolina this weekend.

King gave what became known as the “March on the Ballot Boxes” speech in Kingstree in black-majority Williamsburg County on Mother’s Day, 1966. It came about nine months after the federal Voting Rights Act became law and King urged blacks not to be afraid of voting.

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. was present at King’s speech and will speak at Sunday’s commemoration.

National Park Service historian Michael Allen was 5 at the time he attended King’s speech. Allen says he hopes it will now be remembered much as the 1965 march on Selma, Alabama, by civil rights activists is remembered.

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