By Sergio Medina
Domingo Figueroa, an athletic coordinator, walked west along the curb of Martin Luther King Drive. On the back of his red hoodie, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was included in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”
Figueroa was one of an estimated 300,000 people marching Jan. 20 during the 32nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. March in San Antonio.
King was a key figure in the fight against racial inequality during the 1950s and ’60s.
As examples of his influence, on Dec. 5, 1955, King led the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted about a year, denouncing segregation and racism on public transportation.
He was incarcerated several times for his efforts.
King led marches like the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963, where he delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.
King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
For Figueroa, celebrating King is a way to keep the fight for equality alive.
“Fight without violence,” Figueroa said. “That’s one thing that I learned to do; you know, you can’t fight a fire with fire; you can’t go in stooping to people’s level; that’s something I try to practice myself.”
The march started at 3500 Martin Luther King Dr. and ended at Pittman-Sullivan Park, a walk of about 2.5 miles.
Organizations such as the Martin Luther King Commission, H-E-B Grocery Co., Boeing, Girl Scouts, Toyota, University Health System, UT Health, the American Public Transportation Association, to name a few, sponsored the march.
A few thousand people ahead of Figueroa, accountant Janaee Mandujano walked hand-in-hand with her girlfriend, ahead of a group of people carrying a 20 by 30-foot rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGTBQ+ community.
For Mandujano, it’s important to raise awareness about minorities and people of varying sexual orientations.
“How they live a daily life and are human just like you,” she said.
For those who are indifferent, love should still be the way to conduct the message of awareness, she said.
“Even though they spill hatred and things like that, like, sometimes ignorance is another bliss; sometimes, they’re just ignorant and need to be informed,” she said.
“I came from a predominantly white side of town, and I was the brown kid and got looked at as that, but I just informed them, ‘Hey, I’m just a regular kid like anybody else,” Mandujano said.
She also said the importance of the fight for equality has not diminished since the early days of the civil rights movement.
“There’s a lot of things that are being turned back in time, feels like, and I feel equality is just as important as it was back then,” she said.
Galilea Barrera, freshman at the University of Texas in San Antonio, finds inspiration through King’s dream of equality to pursue her own dreams.
“I’ve never been to any event like this so it’s something very new to me, but my heart feels very full,” she said.
The fight for equality is continuous for her.
“It’s something that’s still going to keep going on for many, many years, but I think that we’re starting, a bit, to see change.”
Stylist Christina Resendez sees the march as an exercise in unity.
“It means a lot to me because it’s San Antonio; we should all come together,” she said.
Support should extend to everyone, whether one is black, Hispanic, Asian or part of any other group, Resendez said.
“I think we should all love each other and not hate,” she added.
King’s prominence in the civil rights movement drew an assassin, James Earl Ray. A gunshot to the head took King’s life on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn., where King had been leading nonviolent protests by sanitation workers.
The anniversary of his birth became a national holiday in 1983.