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City Embraces Civil Rights Tourism

By Dan Cook
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 |
The culminating event of the ColumbiaSC 63 project was the unveiling on March 14 of seven signs along Main Street documenting the area’s civil rights history.

The signs tell the stories of Sarah Mae Flemming, who was kicked off a city bus in 1954 when the driver said she’d tried to sit in the whites-only section; Lennie Glover, a black student who was stabbed at a sit-in; Lester Bates, the mayor of Columbia in the 1960s who pushed for a peaceful integration process; and others involved in historic events of the 1960s.

Two other local signs are at Zion Baptist Church, a focal point of the local civil rights movement, and at 2217 Waverly St., former site of a Nation of Islam mosque where Malcolm X spoke.

The signs mark a turning point for Columbia in becoming more active in promoting its civil rights history. The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau has been an active partner in the ColumbiaSC 63 project, and the director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism spoke at the March 14 event, saying civil rights history is an important component of the state’s tourism efforts.

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