The Catch-Up: Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center added to national civil rights network

By Jordan Lawrence and Kailee Kokes
Posted 2/15/24

A local nonprofit that seeks to increase the quality of life and opportunity afforded to some of the area’s underserved communities has achieved another milestone.

West Columbia’s …

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The Catch-Up: Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center added to national civil rights network


A local nonprofit that seeks to increase the quality of life and opportunity afforded to some of the area’s underserved communities has achieved another milestone.

West Columbia’s Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center was recently added to the African American Civil Rights Network.

The network, a program of the National Parks Service “encompasses properties, facilities, and interpretive programs, all of which present a comprehensive narrative of the people, places, and events associated with African American Civil Rights movement in the United States. Some of these sites may be familiar, while others shed light on a lesser known figure or event consequential to the movement from local, regional, and national perspectives,” per its website.

It’s another boost in visibility and influence for the center, which saw its home, the former site of the segregated Lakeview School, added to the National Register of Historic Places last year. 

“We are extremely pleased and excited about this achievement,”Cindye Richburg Cotton, the center’s executive director, is quoted in a release. “The rich history of Lakeview School is now on a national platform much to our delight and appreciation.”

The school was established in 1925, with its last home being built in 1949. It was a state-equalization school and operated as a segregated institution until 1968, when it was closed by the district as it began to integrate.

The building, which had been the home of Northside Middle School starting in 1969, became home to the Empowerment Center when the middle school moved out. — JL

Lexington School District 5 pulls another book off the shelves

Another book has been removed from shelves in Lexington-Richland School District 5.

“The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb” was flagged by a parent at Irmo’s H.E. Corley Elementary which led Lexington-Richland School District 5’s review committee to decide if the book will remain on school shelves, as reported first by The Post and Couriers Leah Hincks and Ian Grenier. 

The “challenged materials” portion of the district’s website doesn’t yet include this latest complaint, with the district telling the Chronicle that it will not release it until after the review committee’s decision which is set to take place Feb. 20.

The book has been removed from the district's shelves until a decision has been made.

The district said that there had been three copies of the book throughout the district, one at H.E. Corley, Ballentine and Lake Murray elementary schools.

The complaint and removal continues a rash of activity in the district when it comes to determining what books are appropriate to have in its schools. The district stated that the book is not a required reading or part of any curriculum but was available in school libraries prior to the complaint.

In December, the removal of “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sara J. Maas from school libraries was upheld by the Board of Trustees after a complaint about sexually explicit portions of the book and other issues with some of its language.

Last year,  Chapin High teacher Mary Wood gained the attention of national news outlets following the backlash she faced for teaching Ta-Nehisi Coates’ memoir “Between the World and Me,” including accusations of teaching critical race theory.

District 5 hasn’t been the most active in the county, though, when it comes to debating the banning of books.

Since August 2022, Lexington County School District 2, which covers Cayce, West Columbia and Springdale, has recently reviewed 30 books, with more than half of those having been removed. — KK

Cayce’s Soiree on State sets date

One of Lexington County’s signature spring events has circled its date for 2024.

Cayce’s Soiree on State block party will return to its footprint in the city’s River Arts District March 23, bringing a variety of popular acts familiar to area listeners — Prettier Than Matt, Michell Lee, and Cash Money Experience will all perform on the main stage. 

There will also be the expected jazz stage, as the Sam Edwards Jazz Trio will perform in the city’s Art Lot.

The event also promises local artists; a free kids area with inflatable courses, face painting and a balloon artist; food vendors; and more.

The event takes place along State Street, between Poplar and Rail Road. There will be free parking at Brookland-Cayce High School just down the street, with free golf carts available to bring you to the festival if you don’t feel like walking.

Check for more info and updates. — JL

New hotel proposed for Harbison area

A chain hotel that caters to short-term rentals has been proposed near the Columbia area’s biggest mall.

“Marriott, a large international hotel chain, hopes to bring 124 rooms to Harbison Boulevard on the outskirts of Columbia,” The Post and Courier Columbia’s Hannah Wade reports. “The project, submitted for approval from the city of Columbia’s planning commission, would bring one of the hotel chain’s newer concepts right next to the Columbiana Centre mall. The concept, called StudioRes, is the hotel’s attempt at finding its niche in the short-term rental market.”

Per the chain’s website, “StudioRes is for customers who want smart functional design at an affordable price, and for hotel owners seeking an efficient cost to build and low-cost operating model reflective of the current economic environment.” 

As Wade points out, the Harbison shopping district that straddles the counties of Lexington and Richland is already flush with hotels, with a Comfort Suites, a Hampton Inn and two Hilton concepts already operating in the vicinity of the mall. — JL


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