Vandell Davis has never missed a King Day rally.
But he, like so many others, acknowledge a stirring in the air on this crisp winter day, coming 24 hours before the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
“It’s loaded,” he said as he emerged Monday from a rousing worship service at Zion Baptist Church and joined a line of marchers, 12 abreast, headed to the State Capitol.
The AME church youth pastor and retired teacher said he marches every year “for the state and the community.”
This year, many people said they marched in celebration not only of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but for the promise of the Obama administration.
Isabella Joseph-Mooredrove from her Tega Cay home with two friends, Barbara Epps of Charlotte and Angela Davis-Baxter of Rock Hill.
“It’s awesome to be here,” said Joseph-Moore, 63, who described herself as an “Obama mama.”
She attended segregated schools and witnessed some of the inequities of the dying Jim Crow system and is looking forward to the new president.
“Even at my age, I couldn’t envision it,” she said. “But here I am, thank God.”
Thirteen-year-old Marvin Hollins said he has heard plenty of “back in the day” stories from his elders.
“They will be like, back in the day we had to walk to school,” said Hollins, who linked up with two middle school friends, Jaquese and Myron Bing,at the State House.
But he said he tries to take the stories to heart.
“I came with my church because my grandmother wanted me to be here,” he said. “We have to try to do better.”
Monica Eddy and a contingent of nearly a dozen friends and relatives brought up the rear of the King Day march, but her heart — and the heart of her late father — was out front of the enthusiastic crowd.
“I had to come this year,” she said. “This was special to him.”
Her father, Emmett Eddy Jr., known as the "Rev. E. Slave," Eddy gained notoriety in 2002 when he set fire to the Confederate flag at the Confederate Soldier monument.Eddy, wearing a black Santa Claus suit, climbed over the iron fence surrounding the monument, set up a ladder next to the flag pole and climbed to the flag before police surrounded him.
He died in 2005. Monica Eddy said she planned to go to his grave site later in the day.