February 19, 2013
Columbia SC 63 kicks off a year of civil rights programming with We Shall Not Be Moved: A Commemoration of Student Activism in Columbia and the 50th Anniversary of Edwards v. South Carolina on March 3. The day’s events include a church service at Zion Baptist Church and a reunion and roundtable discussion with participants of the movement, including U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
Though its role has never been widely recognized, Columbia played a significant role in shaping the American Civil Rights Movement, and student activism was the driving force behind the movement. Inspired by the “Greensboro Four,” young Black South Carolinians bucked tradition and engaged in a determined campaign of civil disobedience in protest of segregation. A month after Greensboro, students at Columbia’s Allen University and Benedict College held lunch counter sit-ins at local businesses along Main Street. Two significant cases emerged from these protests, Bouie v. City of Columbia and Barr v. City of Columbia, which made it illegal to charge individuals with trespassing without prior warning and explanation.
On March 2, 1961, a statewide coalition of African American high school and college students met at Zion Baptist Church and marched to the South Carolina State House grounds. Carrying protest signs and singing “freedom songs,” they challenged segregation and racial discrimination in the state. One hundred eighty seven participants were arrested and charged with “disturbing the peace.” Those arrested later filed a lawsuit, Edwards v. South Carolina.
On February 25, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that their arrests violated “constitutionally protected rights of free speech, free assembly, and freedom to petition for redress for their grievances.” Their courageous efforts legalized nonviolent protest on public grounds and sharpened the movement for social justice nationwide.
We Shall Not Be Moved will gather members of the movement, many of whom participated in the Edwards march, for a day of celebration and commemoration. The day’s events include:
Commemorative Church Service Zion Baptist Church
801 Washington Street
Free and open to the public
Reunion and Roundtable Discussion with Movement Participants
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
3 – 5 pm
This event is free, but seating is limited. Tickets can be reserved at NotBeMoved.eventbrite.com or calling 803.252.7742 ext. 15.
The roundtable panel will include U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, who participated in the Edwards march, and James Edwards, who the case is named after. After the discussion, attendees are invited to join the panelists for a reception in their honor.