San Antonio celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. with the city’s 30th march.
By Sasha D. Robinson
More than 250,000 people showed up in the rain Monday for the 30th Martin Luther King Jr. March, which started at an Eastside academy named for the civil rights leader and ended at Pittman-Sullivan Park.
“Martin Luther King had a dream and this is a coming together,” said Joyce Stanford, who graduated from St. Philip’s College in 1971 with a degree in math.
“Whether you are black, white, yellow, blue or purple — you see we are all marching,” she said of the crowd that gathered at Martin Luther King Jr. Academy for the 2.75-mile event.
Stanford retired from teaching 14 years ago.
She taught at schools across San Antonio, such as Wheatley Heights Middle School and Burbank High School.
She lives at the Mt. Zion Sheltering Arms retirement home.
Erma Kitsy retired from the Houston Independent School District more than 20 years ago.
“Until people learn to love people as people and not by the color of their skin, the world is going to be in turmoil,” Kitsy said while sitting down observing the march.
She also is a resident of the Mt. Zion retirement home.
On Jan. 19, 1987, the commission and the city of San Antonio held its first official Martin Luther King Jr. march. For more than a dozen years, the march had been going on as a grassroots effort.
Each year, a variety of educational, inspirational and celebratory events honor one of the nation’s most revered civil rights leaders.
Rap group Bridge the Gap used the time to promote awareness through songs that they performed in front of Mitchell Bail Bond’s. The rock group Fishermen performed on the street, and B.E.A.T AIDS promoted safe sex.
B.E.A.T. stands for Black Effort Against the Threat of AIDS.
Its mission is to provide the highest quality HIV/AIDS prevention, education and services out to the community.
Cybersecurity sophomore Christina Gonzalez performed tricks with her hula-hoops under the bridge.
“I have been doing this for two years and people are amused because they see something different,” Gonzalez said.
A child advocate for CASA for seven years, Janice Brock has been giving out free water to marchers.
“I am trying to teach my granddaughters about giving back and their civic duty so I bought water to give it out to the people who march,” Brock said.
Carla Proctor, who graduated from St. Philip’s with a degree in business administration in 2002, has marched for 10 years.
She brought her sons to the march so they could experience it.
“I think it is great to march and hopefully, they will do it when they get older and bring their kids,” Proctor said.
The march along Martin Luther King Drive ended at Pittman-Sullivan Park where there were food stands, games and voter registration, and marchers heard from city officials.
Mayor Ivy Taylor gave a speech at the rally about San Antonio not allowing what happens in Washington, D.C., to dictate what happens here.
“Here in San Antonio, we are going to continue the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative that we have started regardless of who is in the White House,” Taylor said.
“Our city’s future depends on young black and Latino men.”
According to mbksa.org, My Brother’s Keeper is a community challenge started by President Barack Obama, encouraging city leaders to implement a coherent life-impact strategy to help all non-white males reach their full potential regardless of life’s circumstances.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, also spoke at the rally.
“I believe that in San Antonio today, Dr. King’s dream is alive and well,” Doggett said.
While referencing President-Elect Donald J. Trump, Doggett talked about meeting Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights leader.
“His head is a little balder and his head is a little shiny, but you can see there the marks from a beating he received on the Edmond Pettis bridge in his work,” he said.
“I just don’t think that someone with his courage and his determination is going to find any lasting mark from a tweet.”
According to thekingcenter.org, during the 13 years of leadership of the modern American civil rights movement, from December 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced.
King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in history.
King was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta. The Baptist minister and civil-rights activist had a seismic impact on race relations in the U.S.
Through his activism and inspiring speeches, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the U.S. as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.