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May 8, 2016
Kingstree, South Carolina

Honorary Event Co-Chairs:
Ambassador Andrew Jackson Young Jr. & Dr. Clarence Jones

"March on Ballot Boxes!"

On Mother's Day 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Kingstree, South Carolina and gave a remarkable public speech urging the audience of more than 5,000 to exercise their right to vote as a means to pursue social and economic justice. This historic speech is believed by historians to be one of only three public speeches that Dr. King gave in the Palmetto State.

March on Ballot Boxes Speech Celebration
May 8, 2016
Mother’s Day
Original Speech Location
Kingstree, South Carolina
Tomlinson High School
Across from 812 Tomlinson Street

In His Own Words

Let us march on ballot boxes, until somehow we will be able to develop that day when men will have food and material necessities for their bodies, freedom and dignity for their spirits, education and culture for their minds.

On August 6, 1965—just a few months prior to Dr. King's speech— President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, allowing the majority of Kingstree's citizens the right to vote. President Johnson called the day, "a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has even been won." Dr. King’s visit to Kingstree would be an important stop on his crusade to help rid African American voters of the fear of voting.

Sitting in the audience during Dr. King's speech was a young man who would rise to Dr. King's calling and not only march on ballot boxes but lead our nation on Capitol Hill—Congressman James Clyburn.

"My wife Emily and I were in attendance on that spring day in Kingstree, 50 years ago, when Dr. King sounded his clarion call to 'march to the ballot box,'" recalls Congressman Clyburn. "From that moment, we were inspired toward a lifetime of service and engagement. As we look back on that momentous occasion and reflect on Dr. King's call, we must also look forward. The struggle for voting rights and voter engagement continues and each of us must do our part to take up Dr. King's work and make it our own."

While we have progressed over the past five decades, there is still much work to be done. Join us in Kingstree as we honor Dr. King with an unveiling of a historical marker, a speech re-enactment, a gospel celebration, voter registration opportunities and much more. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event that can be shared with your entire family.

Note: Sound begins on this recording at 1:15.

A special acknowledgment to the 1966 Williamsburg County Voter’s League for inviting Dr. King to Kingstree and making this historic speech a reality.


On May 8, 2016—50 years to the day—the town of Kingstree and Williamsburg County will welcome visitors from across the state for a 50th anniversary celebration of Dr. King's historic "March on Ballot Boxes" speech — considered to be Dr. King's first major appearance in the Palmetto State. With the support of many volunteers, corporate sponsors and individual donors, the event is poised to be a momentous occasion honoring Dr. King's message and legacy at the level and distinction he deserves. This event is free and open to the public. Parking is available at Anderson Elementary School, Farmers Telephone Company, IGA, Mt. Zion United Methodist Church with limited transit provided. Please allow time to arrive. Program begins promptly at 3:30 p.m. Attendees of all ages are encouraged to attend. Please bring chairs.

NOTE: The timeline below is subject to change.

3-3:30 P.M.
Event guests arrive
3:30 P.M.
Mrs. Ann McGill
Invocation prayer, welcome of special guests, dignitaries and attendees
3:40 P.M.
Presentation of Colors and National Anthem
U.S. Military Honor Guard and Re-enactors from the 54th Massachusetts Regiment
3:50 P.M.
Rev. Samuel B. Cooper
4 P.M.
Recognition of Special Guests
Mrs. Ann McGill
4:15 P.M.
Presentation of Essay and Art Contest Winners
Rev. Alfred L. Darby and Dr. Linwood Cooper
Young future leaders will be recognized for original works demonstrating an understanding and appreciation of Dr. King's speech
4:30 P.M.
Opening Remarks
Mr. Bakari Sellers
4:45 P.M.
Remembering 1966
The Honorable Congressman James E. Clyburn
5 P.M.
Presentation of Original Speech
Presented by the University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections and PDA
5:20 P.M.
Unveiling of Historical Marker
Mr. Michael Allen and Mr. Billy Jenkinson
Created by S.C. State Historic Preservation Office through the state's Department of Archives and History
5:30 P.M.
Time Capsule Proclamation Presentation
Supervisor Stanley Pasley & Williamsburg County Youth Leadership Group
5:40 P.M.
Closing Remarks and Retiring of the Colors
Mrs. Ann McGill
5:45 P.M.
Gospel Celebration
Closing a historical celebration with uplifting music and inspirational messages led by Believers Crusaders

Student Contests

Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream: 50 Years in Action
In Commemoration of Dr. King’s Visit to Kingstree, SC on May 8, 1966


This Williamsburg County School District Essay Contest is open to all 4th through 12th grade students. Three overall district winners will be selected: one elementary school (4-5) student, one middle school (6-8) student, and one high school (9-12) student. All school level and district level winners will be recognized at a planned district event. District level winners will be notified by April 30, 2016.

Entries must be hand-delivered by the school principal or principal’s designee by April 22, 2016. No entry will be accepted after that date.


Create an art piece inspired by this Prompt: “A Dream you have to make the world a better place, and what will it take to make this change in today’s society”

This contest is open to all K-12 students in Williamsburg County School District. 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 district winner will be selected by April 15, 2016.

All entries must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. EDT on April 15, 2016.

Our Sponsors

Event Produced By:

Be a part of history. Let your constituents know that you support Dr. King's message.

Sponsorship Opportunities Available

News & Updates


Clyburn and Sellers Slated to Join Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration as Guest Speakers

Kingstree, SC — Congressman James Clyburn and Former State Representative and CNN Political Commentator Bakari Sellers will be the featured speakers at the upcoming 50th Anniversary Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “March on Ballot Boxes” speech. The event will be held on Sunday, May 8 at the Tomlinson High School athletic field in Kingstree, […]

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Community Events

There are several community events taking place prior to our celebration. We encourage you to check them out if you are local to Kingstree and Williamsburg County or if you are visiting. Civil Rights Exhibit Kick-Off May 7 200 Hampton Avenue Kingstree, SC 29556

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Parking Locations

General parking for the event is available at the locations listed below. VIP Parking will be at Pressley Funeral Home and the lot adjacent to Tomlinson High School athletic field. Individuals participating in the actual program will park at Pressley Funeral Home. Program will begin promptly at 3:30 p.m. Guests are encouraged to arrive by […]

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Civil Rights Exhibition Scheduled to Open Day Before 50th Anniversary Celebration

Starting May 7, there will be an evolving exhibit at the C. Williams Rush Gallery/Museum of African-American Arts Culture in Kingstree, SC. The exhibition is a result of the collaboration between the gallery/museum and the Tomlinson High School Class of 1966 and opening in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s […]

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Contact Us

Sponsorship Questions
Billy Jenkinson
Jenkinson, Jarrett & Kellahan, PA
120 West Main Street
Kingstree, SC 29556

Event & Media Inquiries
Jessica Munday or Jennifer Cherock
Trio Solutions Inc.
505 Belle Hall Parkway, Ste. 202
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464