Thousands of marchers, one vision: racial equality

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Paula Mata, administrative services specialist in facilities, and Aunya Byrd, dean of arts and sciences, hold a St. Philip's College banner Jan. 19 during the Martin Luther King Jr. March along Martin Luther King Drive.  Photo by E. David Guel

Paula Mata, administrative services specialist in facilities, and Aunya Byrd, dean of arts and sciences, hold a St. Philip’s College banner Jan. 19 during the Martin Luther King Jr. March along Martin Luther King Drive. Photo by E. David Guel

Angelina Valdez, 4, and her aunt Yvonne Valdez, former student at this college and Northwest Vista, hold fists up in memory of Michael Brown and Marquise Jones during the Martin Luther King Jr. March Jan. 19 along Martin Luther King Drive west of Highway 90. Brown was shot by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson Aug. 9, and Jones was shot by San Antonio police officer Robert Encina Feb. 28.  Photo by E. David Guel

Angelina Valdez, 4, and her aunt Yvonne Valdez, former student at this college and Northwest Vista, hold fists up in memory of Michael Brown and Marquise Jones during the Martin Luther King Jr. March Jan. 19 along Martin Luther King Drive west of Highway 90. Brown was shot by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson Aug. 9, and Jones was shot by San Antonio police officer Robert Encina Feb. 28. Photo by E. David Guel

Correction: Marguerite Floyd-Gipson’s name was spelled incorrectly.

Annual holiday celebrates the life of slain civil rights leader.

By Cynthia M. Herrera

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

An estimated 175,000 to 200,000 people marched Jan. 19 commemorating the anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Javier Martinez, media contact for the MLK Jr. Commission, said.

It was a day of reflections on milestones and the continuing work to eliminate institutional racism, especially in the judicial and educational systems.

King is an iconic hero who fought for civil rights for African-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. Although many citizens looked up to King, others despised him for his ideas on equal rights.

His life came to an end April 4, 1968, when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first celebrated as a federal holiday in 1986. San Antonio’s first march started in 1987, making this one the 28th annual event.

Among march participants were Mayor Ivy Taylor.

The Rev. Dr. Marcus Cosby speaks to an audience, referencing scripture and words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 19 after the Martin Luther King Jr. March from the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy at Pittman-Sullivan Park. Cosby quoted King saying "we have the oportunity to ensure that justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream."  Photo by E. David Guel

The Rev. Dr. Marcus Cosby speaks to an audience, referencing scripture and words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 19 after the Martin Luther King Jr. March from the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy at Pittman-Sullivan Park. Cosby quoted King saying “we have the oportunity to ensure that justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” Photo by E. David Guel

She is the first black female mayor of a major U.S. city and was the honorary commission chair this year.

“I don’t think anybody ever expected San Antonio to have a black mayor,” Taylor said.

Bishop David Michael Copeland, commission chair, is the senior pastor of New Creation Christian Fellowship.

“I think today was fantastic; everybody who came today participated,” Copeland said. “We celebrated the reason for the march, being for progress, for justice and social equality.”

Copeland attended Trinity University’s annual MLK Jr. Commemorative Lecture Jan. 15 to hear anti-racist essayist, author and educator Tim Wise discuss “The Legacy of Dr. King and Today’s Civil Rights Struggles.”

Copeland particularly admired Wise’s comments on taking King as a whole person rather than taking individual pieces of his ideas.

Marchers carry signs of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 2.75-mile march Jan. 19 from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy to Pittman-Sullivan Park. San Antonio had the largest MLK march in the nation, with more than 175,000.  Photo by Anthony B. Botello

Marchers carry signs of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 2.75-mile march Jan. 19 from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy to Pittman-Sullivan Park. San Antonio had the largest MLK march in the nation, with more than 175,000. Photo by Anthony B. Botello

“[Tim Wise] was like fantastic, he was awesome,” Copeland said. “I think that what he shared and the way he shared it was so enlightening and inspiring to help us understand that we have a long way to go but we can do it in a positive way so that it’s uplifting and encouraging to people.”

Other political figures who attended the march included U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, 35th District, Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.

Marvin Spring, 82, has been participating in the MLK Jr. March since it first started Jan. 19, 1987.

District 2 councilman Alan Warrick Jr., Rodney Taylor and wife Mayor Ivy Taylor, and commission chair David Copeland lead the Martin Luther King Jr. March Jan. 19 from the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy to Pittman-Sullivan Park. More than 175,000 marched the 2.75 miles.  Photo by E. David Guel

District 2 councilman Alan Warrick Jr., Rodney Taylor and wife Mayor Ivy Taylor, and commission chair David Copeland lead the Martin Luther King Jr. March Jan. 19 from the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy to Pittman-Sullivan Park. More than 175,000 marched the 2.75 miles. Photo by E. David Guel

Spring said he had seen many changes in his lifetime.

“I was the first they hired out at the Pioneer [Flour Mills] and the unions. They wouldn’t let blacks in there but I got in there,” Spring said.

As he watched the marchers, Alvin Perry, 35, wore a shirt reading, “I am the Eastside.”

Perry is founder of Together Helping Each Other, an organization committed to improving the image of residents and businesses of the Eastside. He also designed the shirt.

Perry said the shirts are meant to be worn throughout the year, not only to protest unfortunate events, such as the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City last year.

Joe Satterwhite, St. Philip's graduate, records the Martin Luther King Jr. March Jan. 19 from the sidelines of Martin Luther King Drive west of S. Rio Grande. Satterwhite said King's dream is being realized slowly and St. Philip's is more diverse now than when he graduated in 1966.  Photo by E. David Guel

Joe Satterwhite, St. Philip’s graduate, records the Martin Luther King Jr. March Jan. 19 from the sidelines of Martin Luther King Drive west of S. Rio Grande. Satterwhite said King’s dream is being realized slowly and St. Philip’s is more diverse now than when he graduated in 1966. Photo by E. David Guel

“I wanted to make a statement, and the statement is basically saying that not everybody is a gang member in the streets or thugs,” Perry said. “The people that can wear this shirt can be a lawyer or a doctor, so instead of just seeing them as a lawyer or a doctor, they see a person that says ‘I am from the Eastside.’ That’s the statement that they are making.”

Marguerita Floyd, who lives on the route of the march, staged a graphic depiction of the future many young black men face.

Her grandsons sat behind a set of security doors in her front yard to show that children are being incarcerated instead of educated. Floyd said she believes Spanish should be mandatory for preschoolers in San Antonio and that providing jobs for blacks would lower crime rates.

She wants teens in middle and high school in the black community to have access to apprenticeships so they can go forward in life and become productive members of society.

“We want to make statements to say, yes, we want to be educated, we want those individuals to know where they’re going to go or what they’re going to do,” Floyd said.

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