By JEFFREY COLLINS
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Civil rights leaders are preparing for their biggest rally of the year in South Carolina.
The state NAACP's King Day at the Dome ceremonies will begin Monday morning with a prayer service at Zion Baptist Church. Hundreds of people will then march several blocks through downtown Columbia to the Statehouse for a rally.
Speakers at the rally include U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and national NAACP President Cornell Williams Brooks. South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth will also read her poem about South Carolina working to overcome its past.
"Demanding justice and standing for dignity," said South Carolina NAACP President Dr. Lonnie Randolph. "That encompasses every area in the state because there is not an area in the state where justice--the demand for justice is on an equitable basis--the demand is equitable but the receiving of it is still an inequity."
The rally on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has been going on since 2000, when it called for the removal of the Confederate flag from atop the Statehouse dome.
The theme of the rally is: "Demanding Justice; Standing for Dignity."
A prayer breakfast is at 8:30. A march to the State House follows. Monday evening, a prayer service is at Zion Baptist from 6 to 7 p.m.
Others are expected to gather at what's being called the Midlands longest running annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Monday morning at 10:30 at Chappelle Memorial A.M.E. Church on Pine Street. Mr. Eugene Washington, owner of Gene Productions Inc. is the guest speaker.
And at 4 p.m., is the 27th annual celebration at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and Community Center on Greene Street in Columbia. Columbia Urban League's James McLawhorn is the keynote speaker.
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