Marchers unite to stand against racism at MLK event

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Sam Casey, head coach of men’s basketball at this college, and Steven Walters, Ranger’s center and criminal justice sophomore, lead the men’s basketball team at the MLK march Jan. 15. This is the first year the men’s basketball team has participated in the annual march. V. Finster

Men’s basketball team joins in for the first time.

Kimberly Caballero

More than 300,000 people from across the country gathered Jan. 15 for the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. March, which continues to be the largest in the nation, to honor the late civil rights activist.

Marchers walked side by side through San Antonio’s East Side. Some held signs that read “Moving the Dream Forward” or “The Female is Feminist,” and others chanted “Black lives matter.”

Unity was a common theme found among the diverse crowd, which included Brown Berets and original members of the Mississippi Freedom Riders.

The Brown Berets and Freedom Riders formed during the 1960s civil rights era to protest segregation and racism.

Former Freedom Rider Barbara Bowie shared the emotions she experienced while boarding a VIA bus, which drove her and fellow Freedom Riders along the MLK March route. The bus, a turquoise color with silver panels, reminded her of the bus she rode to protest segregation during the 1960s.

Barbara Bowie shares her story with local news stations in front of the 1966 GMC Dreamliner bus Jan. 15 at the 50th annual MLK march. Bowie said this bus brought tears to her eyes because it reminded her of when she was a kid and got harassed by a white man when she and her mother where seated in a white-only section. Lorena Torres Romero

During the mid-1960s, Bowie sat in a whites-only section at the front of a bus and resisted moving in spite of a white man verbally harassing her to do so.

“The other whites on there looked at me with some sense of approval because I did not respond. I was scared … but I didn’t show any fear,” Bowie said.

Another of several Freedom Riders present at the march was Fred Anderson, who was arrested and jailed for 39 days at the age of 15 for using a whites-only water fountain at a bus station.

He spoke in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. and commented on the current presidential administration.

“If you look at the Trump administration, their whole goal is to divide people — to divide blacks from whites, to divide blacks from Hispanics. It’s that kind of division that makes us weak and can be taken advantage of,” Anderson said.

Today the Brown Berets and Freedom Riders continue to encourage people of all races to come together peacefully and stand against racism and violence.

Not lost in the array of political activists was this college’s men’s basketball team. This was the first time an athletic team has officially participated in the MLK March, according to an email sent Jan. 18 by student success adviser Marisa Martinez.

The young men marched with smiles and a banner bearing this college’s name.

In an interview before the march, psychology freshman Noah Phillips, small forward on the men’s basketball team, shared who Martin Luther King Jr. is to him.

“He stood up for us … he’s kind of a symbol in a way for hope, for people who didn’t have much, a symbol of faith for people who didn’t have much faith,” he said.

He also shared what impact he hopes the march has on this college now that more students from here are participating in it.

“I hope it brings us together as a college even more.”

Hyshone Fisher, psychology freshman and captain of the men’s basketball team, spoke about equality.

“Martin Luther King hoped for equality for the people and freedom for the way we are and not really being judgmental,” he said.

Fisher admires Martin Luther King Jr. for seeing past the color of skin.

“He didn’t really care what people thought about the skin tone of our skin,” he said.

Student success Coordinator Joseph Liedecke organized this college’s first official participation in the MLK March, with the support of college President Robert Vela. 

“I think it was successful, and I think it wouldn’t have been as successful if we didn’t have Dr. Vela endorsing it and that personal invitation he sent out to everyone,” he said in an interview Jan. 18.

Liedecke, along with other staff and administration, discussed growing participation in next year’s MLK March.

“I think we got some pretty good ideas because as we were walking I overheard the few staff that were there and the administrators giving ideas on what we can do next year to promote,” Liedecke said.  


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