Chester will dedicate part of the highway to the first black mayor

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Christopher King Sr., the city of Chester’s first black mayor, will be honored with a freeway dedication on Sunday.

Twenty-four years after his death, the State of South Carolina will honor Chester’s icon, Christopher “Chris” King Sr.

He was the first black mayor of the city of Chester and a lifelong public servant. In his memory, part of SC Highway 9, which locals called Lancaster Street, will now be called “Christopher King Sr. Memorial Highway”.

An official dedication will be held at the intersection of Hudson Street and Cemetery Street at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Lawmakers such as SC state officials Annie McDaniel, Randy Ligon and SC state senator Mike Fanning pushed through the legislation.

King’s dedication to Chester extended well beyond his tenure as mayor. He played a key role in the United States Supreme Court’s decision to establish single-member districts for Chester County.

And he operated King’s Funeral Home for over 40 years – a business he called “his ministry,” where he helped people in their most vulnerable times.

His name in the public service did not end with death.

King’s son, John R. Christopher King Jr., currently represents SC House District 49. He also served on Chester County Council and subsequently founded the Christopher King Funeral Home in honor of his father.

King Sr.’s daughter Robbie King-Boyd serves on the first all-black city council in the history of the town of Chester.

And another of his King Sr.’s sons, William King, served on city council in 2017.

King-Boyd said she remembers as a child traveling to the state of South Carolina with her family. King Sr. took his children with him as he helped citizens register to vote. She remembers traveling to see Jim Clyburn, the United States House Majority Whip.

“It was nothing to come home and see (former US Secretary of Education) Dick Riley sitting at our table. Even Strom Thurmond, ”she said.

As her father let all of her children choose their own path, King-Boyd said she found her way into public service when a city council seat opened in October 2020.

“I had been quiet long enough,” she said. “I just thought it was time for me to step up and do my part. I just feel like I continue to carry the torch.

King Jr. said he remembers his father as a longtime public servant, both in office and in his work at the funeral home. “He just wasn’t an icon in Chester, but he was an icon in that region and in the state.

King Sr. is also remembered by the community as an advocate for equal rights. Her son remembered a special case.

“My brother was working on some sort of construction job,” King Jr. said. “And a gentleman walked up to my brother and said,“ Your dad fought for me when I was a bus driver. “”

The man said that at that time white bus drivers were paid more than black bus drivers, and King Sr. joined the fight for equal pay.

“It’s just stories like that, that we hear all the time. That my dad didn’t always tell us, ”King Jr.

It is believed that on Sunday King Sr.’s wife, Margie, her seven children, some cousins, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be in attendance. King Jr. said his father was a humble man.

“I don’t know what he would say, but I know what we’re saying,” King Jr. said. “We’re all excited. People can walk down Lancaster Street and see his name, and remember him for what he did for Chester.

This story was originally published November 5, 2021 4:50 pm.

Tobie Nell Perkins works for the Herald in partnership with Report For America. It covers Chester County, Catawba Indian Nation and General Missions. Tobie is a graduate of the University of Florida and has won a Regional Murrow Award as well as awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Florida Society of News Editors.


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