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It’s been over 40 years since Dr. Martin Luther King shared his Dream with the Nation. This weekend, Greenville will honor Dr. King with “MLK Dream Weekend”. This organization of business and civic leaders committed to Dr. King’s cause encourages others to “live his dream”. Tonight, TD Convention Center will play host to the MLK Diversity Banquet and Celebration with guest speaker, Roland Martin.  This dinner event will begin at 6:15PM and will include pre-dinner entertainment provided by Whitney Walters and Groove Planet. An after-party will follow with host Vicky James of 107.3 JAMZ. This Saturday from 10AM until noon, Upstate residents are encouraged to participate in a Day of Community Service in conjunction with Hands on Greenville. Volunteers will work at various project sites throughout Greenville County. Families, friends and community groups can sign up to volunteer together. The celebration will conclude Monday with “Dreams in Action” at Greenville High School. This event, whose mission is to spread Dr. King’s message of positive change, will include workshops,  entertainment, community service projects and lunch for the participants. For more information on this and other MLK Dream Weekend events, visit www.mlkdreamweekend.com.

If you can’t make the Dream Weekend festivities, you can still pay homage Dr. King and his Dream. An excellent place to start is at the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Downtown Greenville. This seemingly ordinary street corner, which is currently the site of building projects, played a remarkable and very important role in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement. This was once the home of the Woolworth’s building and was the site of “sit-ins” and student protests against segregation in the 1960’s.  Many of the students involved, including Greenville native, Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, attended Sterling High School. A memorial to these courageous students now stands on the site. The life-size statue by artist Maria Kirby Smith depicts two African American students (a young man and a young woman), walking down the steps from Sterling High. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

If you continue south down Main Street and turn east onto Broad, you will find two more places that played an important part in the history of Greenville’s African American community. The first, located at the corner of Broad and Falls Streets, was once the home of the Working Benevolent Temple. Constructed in 1922, this 3-story, brick building played a vital role in the development of Greenville’s African American business district for over 50 years by providing office space to many of the community’s professionals. It was designed, built and financed by the Working Benevolent Grand State Lodge of South Carolina, a health, welfare and burial benefit society.

Next to this prestigious site (on Falls Street) is the John Wesley United Methodist Church. Organized in 1866 by Rev. James Rosewood, a former slave, this church was one of South Carolina’s first independent African American congregations after the Civil War. The current church was built between the years of 1899 and 1903 and is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style. John Wesley Methodist has long been the epicenter of Greenville’s religious community and, along with the Working Benevolent Temple, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A must-see for anyone living in or visiting Downtown Greenville is the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center, located at 700 Arlington Avenue. Founded in 1987 by Ruth Ann Butler, a former history teacher and participant in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement, this African American history museum and cultural center is dedicated to the preservation of Greenville’s rich multi-cultural diversity, contributions and accomplishments. The Center provides a haven of historical reflection, research and education through exhibits, archives and guided tours. The Resource Center contains biographical sketches, news articles, tape recordings, photographs, and letters of prominent African-Americans, available to visiting scholars, students, and the general public.

A reflective conclusion to your historical tour can be found at Richland Cemetery, located on Stone Avenue near North Main. In stark contrast to the elegant opulence of nearby Springwood Cemetery, this small area is the simple yet dignified final resting place of some of Greenville’s most prominent African American citizens. Many of the graves contain no markers or homemade gravestones, while others are marked by stones proudly proclaiming the person’s accomplishments and status in the community.  A tour through this quiet, peaceful place will show you how far Greenville has come…and how far we have yet to go to attain Dr. King’s Dream.

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Winter can be pretty miserable in many parts of the country, trapping kids & their harried parents inside for days at a time. Here in the Upstate, we are often blessed with unexpectedly Spring-like weather in the middle of January – usually right before or right after a bout with bad weather (I think it’s Mother Nature’s apology for all those ice storms). So, on those wonderful days when the sky is a perfect shade of Carolina blue and the temps are delightfully mild, corral the kids and head Downtown for a little family fun.

The first destination of your Downtown excursion should be The Children’s Museum of the Upstate.(www.tcmgreenvillesc.org) Located in Heritage Green on College Street, this interactive museum, complete with ever-changing, kid-friendly exhibits, is a favorite among parents & children alike. With everything from cooking classes to art projects, TCM offers plenty of activities to keep young minds & little hands busy! Sharing the Heritage Green location are the Upcountry History Museum (www.upcountryhistory.org) and the Hughes Main Library (www.greenvillelibrary.org). Kids will love the passle of piggies that greet them at the door as the museum allows them to truly experience Greenville’s diverse history. After your museum visit, hop next door to the library, where your little ones can choose from a variety of fun and informative activities to feed their imaginations (there are even cool projects for bored teens and tweens).

Back on Main Street, at the Hyatt’s fountain, you will discover another of Downtown Greenville’s favorite attractions – the Mice on Main. Scattered in clever hiding places all along a seven-block stretch, these adorable bronze sculptures were inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon, and proposed by high school student, Jimmy Ryan for his senior project. Download clues from their website, www.miceonmain.net for a fun-filled scavenger hunt. Later, take a break from scouting for mice and duck into Mast General Store. With huge barrels of candy and vintage-style toys, you’ll think you took a step back in time to your grandparents’childhood. While you’re there, look for the Mice on Main book and game as souveniers of your family outing.

Downtown Greenville offers a variety of beautiful public parks. One of the most unique is Linky Stone Park, located just behind the Peace Center. This delightful children’s garden is filled with fun, interactive elements that appeal to all ages. The statues of favorite childhood characters such as Winnie the Pooh will bring out the kid in even the most serious of adults. A few blocks down Main Street is the centerpiece of Downtown, Falls Park. A perfect setting for the Reedy River Falls, this park is truly a labor of love by the City of Greenville and the Carolina Foothills Garden Club. Take a stroll on Liberty Bridge, a world-class pedestrian bridge than offers spectacular views of the Falls. Run off any excess energy with a hike on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a system of trails and pathways created to link Upstate residents and visitors to the great outdoors. The Downtown portion connects Falls Park to nearby Cleveland Park. As Greenville’s most extensive recreation area, Cleveland Park boasts the city’s largest playground, as well as jogging trails, tennis courts and exercise equipment. Located in the park is the Greenville Zoo (www.greenvillezoo.com), where you can visit giraffes, lions, orangutans, bright pink flamingoes and a petting zoo of farm animals. Open daily (except on certain holidays) the Zoo offers fun for everyone.

Your kids will agree that the perfect ending for this fun-filled day is a sweet treat. Located at the West End Market, near Falls Park, is Coffee to a Tea. With yummy cookies and fanciful cakes that are almost to pretty to eat, this cafe also has a Storytime Hour for kids on Tuesday mornings. If you prefer to head back up Main Street, stop by the Marble Slab Creamery for a delicious frozen treat with your choice of toppings or pop in The Chocolate Moose for a wide assortment of delectable cupcakes (the Key Lime and Red Velvet are my favorites). Craving a hot dog? Check out one of the many hot dog vending carts found along Main, for a “big city” lunch experience.

Downtown offers a fun-filled day for everyone from 1 to 101. For a daily list of activities, visit the Downtown Greenville, SC Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC). Also, check out these additional family-friendly attractions:

South Carolina Children’s TheatreThis unique theatrical venue offers performances targeted to young audiences. SCCT also gives children of all ages and backgrounds the chance to become a part of Greenville’s theatre community through classes, workshops, volunteer opportunities and auditions for parts in live productions. For more information, visit: www.scchildrenstheatre.org.

McPherson Park– Located on the corner of Main and Park Avenue, McPherson is Greenville’s oldest park. Opened in 1884, this charming little park includes a playground, lighted tennis courts and a bring-your-own-clubs putt-putt course, as well as a log cabin craft store and a large covered gazebo for gatherings.

Trolley Rides– The City of Greenville provides freetrolley rides on Thursday & Friday (6PM-11PM), all day Saturday (10AM-11PM) and Sunday (1PM – 8PM). Trolley stops start at North Main at Horizon Records and continue down Main Street and the West End. It’s a great, relaxing way to tour Downtown Greenville!

Reedy River Rickshaw– Rickshaw Rides for tips are offered in Downtown Greenville during evening hours every weekday except Monday and from noon until the wee hours on weekends. For details, see www. RRRickshaw.com.

Reedy Rides– Bicycle rentals are available every day through Reedy Rides. Great for pedaling down the bike friendly lanes on Downtown streets and exploring the Swamp Rabbit Trail. For rates and reservations, visit www.reedyrides.com.

Greenville Road Warriors-Catch hockey fever when the Road Warriors are in town! Greenville’s ECHL team can be seen every Fall & Winter at the BILO Center. For a team schedule, roster and ticket information, visit: www.GreenvilleRoadWarriors.com

Greenville Drive Greenville’s minor league baseball team shows the Upstate’s long-time love of America’s favorite sport. Every Spring, Fluor Field comes alive with cheering fans. For a team schedule, roster and ticket information, visit: www.greenvilledrive.com

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum Located in the former home of baseball legend and Greenville native, Shoeless Joe Jackson, this free museum is a must-see for sports fans! Open every Saturday, 10AM – 2PM, the museum displays many of Joe’s personal effects as well as items of historic significance to the early days of professional baseball. For more info, see www.shoelessjoejackson.org.

Greenville History Tours– Discover Greenville’s rich, diverse history with walking tours of Downtown. Tours are available on weekday evenings and at various times throughout the day on weekends. Children under 10 are free with a paying adult. For more information and reservations, visit www.greenvillehistorytours or call 864-567-3940.

Greenville Ghost Tours– Want a tour so good it’s scary? This tour invites you to explore Downtown’s spooky side. Tours are available every weekend in September and October and by appointment the rest of the year. For more information and reservations, call 864-248-6472 or visit www.GreenvilleGhost.com.



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