MLK remembered, flag and Civil War issues addressed

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- Over 1,000 people gathered at the State House Monday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Confederate flag and events marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War were just a few issues addressed at the annual King Day at the Dome rally.

South Carolina NAACP President Lonnie Randolph spoke candidly at Monday's event not only about Dr. Martin Luther King's dream and legacy but about the longstanding disparities in South Carolina.

The state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has called for the Confederate flag to come down from the state grounds for the last decade.

In 2000, Lawmakers approved moving the flag to the Confederate Soldier Monument on Statehouse grounds.

The NAACP hosts the march and rally at the statehouse each year to boycott the flag which the organization says has driven several large sports tourism events away from the state.

Sons of Confederate Veterans division commander Mark Simpson says the soldier's flag is at a place that honors their ancestors who fought and died, and the group will continue to defend it.

Randolph also denounced the celebratory tone of last month's secession ball held in Charleston to commemorate the Civil War anniversary.

Governor Nikki Haley also weighed in on the holiday.

Over four decades ago, a visionary man of faith successfully lead a historic struggle that changed our nation forever. Today, I join all South Carolinians in honoring and remembering Dr. King TMs dream, where every citizen blessed to live in America continues to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities of this great nation at its best," Haley said Monday.

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(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)