Community members gather to commemorate anniversaries of Civil Rights Act, Brown v. Board of Education

About 75 people gathered Sunday to commemorate the history made with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the decision in the Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

The JR-12 Civil Rights Act Commemorative Committee hosted “The Journey Continues, Let We Forget” at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Conway to share the story about achievements made through the civil rights movement.

“We have this kind of event to pay respect to whose who sacrificed so that we could enjoy the United States of America to the extent that we do today,” said Cedric Blain-Spain, who worked to organize the event. “Today is about going back to say ‘thank you’ for making the sacrifice.”

Remembering the achievements made to improve the lives of black people in the United States through the civil rights movement is necessary to make sure the mistakes of history are not repeated, said James L. Felder, who served as keynote speaker.

“It’s up to us, now, to do what we can do,” he said, citing income disparities and the education gap between whites and minorities.

Felder, a former member of the S.C. House of Representatives and U.S. Army veteran who served as a pallbearer at the funeral of President John F. Kennedy Jr., said being able to remember a time when black people faced threats of death in order to vote, he doesn’t understand why voter turnout in the black community is so low.

“Four years ago there were 800,000 black registered voters in South Carolina, but only half of you went out to vote,” he said. “What are you going to do about that?”

Marjorie McIver said it was important for those in attendance to hear Felder speak because he offered knowledge to those who are too young to know what happened during the civil rights movement.

“There are those who have heard or read about the struggle,” she said. “There are those who’ve been through the struggle. And there are those who know the truth.”

McIver said events like the one held Sunday need to be aimed toward more young people.

“One of the things that we have failed to do is tell the story,” she said. “And when we do tell the story we forget to bring [young people] with us.”