Olympic Medalist Raven Saunders will serve as grand marshal for Emancipation Parade

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston native and 2020 Olympic Silver Medalist Raven Saunders will lead Charleston’s annual Emancipation Parade.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg made the announcement Thursday.

“She’s an extraordinary American athlete, a hometown hero right here in Charleston,” Tecklenburg said. “She competed at the high school and college national level and set records before achieving a silver medal at last year’s Olympic games. None other than our very own Raven Saunders is going to be the grand marshal for the 156th annual Emancipation Proclamation Parade.”

The parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Jan. 1 at Burke High School, but this year’s parade will end at a new location.

Instead of Mother Emanuel AME Church, the parade route’s traditional endpoint, the parade will now extend to the future site of the International African American Museum at Gadsden’s Wharf.

“The community right now is where much of our nation is, perhaps even a little farther along. Charleston has a special relationship with all of these conversations around enslavement,” IAAM President and CEO Dr. Tonya M. Matthews said. “We have a special relationship with the fight that’s going on right now to figure out who our nation will be next. I’m excited and enthusiastic about the conversations that we’re finally having out loud and even adding to a parade.”

Saunders, a graduate of Burke High School, won a silver medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan for her 19.79-meter shot put throw.

The Charleston Emancipation celebration has been held on New Year’s Day since 1866 and is considered our nation’s oldest parade commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation.

CLICK HERE for more information and to sign up to participate in the parade.

Proceeds from the parade’s enrollment fee will benefit the Albert W. Hunt Education Scholarship Program, which is maintained by the Emancipation Proclamation Association of Charleston, a local non-profit organization and sponsor of the parade.

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Patrick Phillips

Patrick joined the Live 5 News team in October 2006.

Rey Llerena

Rey Llerena

Rey joined the Live 5 News team in November 2021.