By Monte Ashqar
Herman Rover was standing on the front porch of his office watching the Sam Houston High School marching band, in the 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. March, while he played King’s famous “I have a dream” speech from his stereo.
Rover, 60, who owns GM&N Title and Auto Insurance on Martin Luther King Drive, said he grew up in Mobile, Ala., and lived through racial prejudice against African-Americans during the 1960s.
“I lived 180 miles from Montgomery,” Rover said referring to the famous incident in 1955, when civil-rights activist Rosa Parks challenged the public transit segregation laws and refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.
“I remember also hearing Harry Truman’s comments on the radio when MLK won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964,” Rover added. “I didn’t give it to him.”
The nearly three-mile march is one of the largest in the nation, and this year’s was expected to bring in about 100,000 people, according to the official Web site of the City of San Antonio MLK Commemoration.
Gloria Ray, the MLK commission chair, said official numbers were not available because of the bad weather that may have kept people away.
“We could not get a chopper in the air because of the heavy fog to do a crowd count estimate,” she said.
Although a crowd count was not available, Ray said this year’s participation was the biggest ever.
The march started at 10 a.m. at the MLK Freedom Bridge and ended about noon at Pittman-Sullivan Park.
There were people from all racial and political groups, and some were there to promote their agendas.
There was an obvious presence from alamObama, Democratic presidential hopeful Barrack Obama’s campaign in San Antonio.
AlamObama Co-Chair Judy Hall said Obama was in South Carolina Monday preparing for his debate speech for that state’s primary Tuesday.
“This was an outreach through our volunteer campaign and we coordinated our efforts through conference calls,” Hall added. “Fifty-plus volunteers have showed up here today.”
Compared to Obama’s representation, the campaign presence of other presidential hopefuls was minimal.
Several marchers carried anti-Bush and anti-war signs.
Dan Alqantaro’s sign said, “The dream can be reality again! The nightmare ends in 364 days.”
“I am referring to President Bush who is the worst president ever,” Alqantaro said.
Sister college St. Philip’s had participants in the march who carried a college banner.
Dr. Robert Zeigler, president of this college, joined the march, but not in his official capacity.
“I try to come every year,” Zeigler said.
“This year’s weather was a lot warmer so it didn’t hinder people from coming like last year’s.”
During this time last year the temperature was about 33 degrees.
Celebration Circle member Catherine McGuire said she came to the march to join the “river of love.”
The local organization promotes a creative approach to spirituality and creating tolerance and acceptance, according to its Web site.
Police and law enforcement presence was heavy along the march route.
Deputy Constable W. Jones of Constable’s Office Precinct 4 said he volunteers for the march every year and usually there are no problems or fights.
“This march is always peaceful,” Jones added. “These people are happy to be here.”