Mia Cabello/ The Paisano
San Antonio’s 28th Anniversary Commemorative Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. March united tens of thousands of San Antonians under one common cause— a dream. On the morning of January 19, participants and uniformed officers began their march at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy and ended at Pittman-Sullivan Park.
Vendors and volunteers from local churches, schools, organizations and businesses gathered at Pittman-Sullivan Park to provide participants with food, entertainment, and camaraderie.
The event featured local choirs and poet Destinee Gilliam. Mayor Ivy Taylor, San Antonio’s first African-American mayor, State Representative Ruth Jones McClendon and County Commissioner Tommy Calvert all spoke at the event, as did District 2 Councilman Alan E. Warrick II.
Special guest Eric D. Carrington and speaker Rev. Dr. Marcus D. Crosby, Sr. Pastor of Wheeler Ave Baptist Church in Houston, TX, concluded the commemorative program.
A number of marchers held hand-painted signs or wore custom t-shirts to express frustration and angst towards the violence against perceived racial hatred, including the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, the suffocation of Eric Garner in New York City and the shooting of Jordan Baker in Houston, TX.
Pride and respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of a united nation rippled throughout the crowd. Michael Williams, a volunteer at the event, said,“Martin Luther King means a whole lot for the country, even for the nation and the world, and just to be participating in something that he stands for — freedom for all — is a beautiful thing and it gravitates to everybody.”
UTSA Alpha Kappa Alpha President Janay Thomas and Vice President Brelyn Donato marched with fellow sorority members. Alpha Kappa Alpha member Ebonee Lister proudly held a “Je Suis Charlie” sign to express her sentiments towards the recent terrorist attack in Paris, while her sorority sister Rachael Ugoala held an “All Lives Matter” sign, which listed the names of recent victims of racial violence.
Donato noticed an increase in UTSA student involvement: “It’s pretty heavy; there are a lot of student organizations here, and we are very supportive of the MLK march.”
UTSA students and first-time marchers Kenneth Mayfield and Cameron Smith created homemade signs out of plywood and dry erase board.
Mayfield’s sign read “Equality for All,” and left room for participants to sign their names. Smith’s sign used a civil right’s statement from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Several children held signs that said, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” a common saying and gesture that originated at the demonstrations that followed the shooting of Brown. African-American’s carried signs with “Black and Unarmed” in bold, black print to protest racial violence. “I can’t breathe” shirts spread awareness of past violence while UTSA’s “Dream, Believe, Achieve” shirts prompted hope for the nation’s future.
However, the tone of the march was not uniformly somber.
“It’s a glorious time to see the rainbow of all of us in San Antonio coming together as one,” said 50-year-old Rene Thomas. “With no fighting, no fussing, no cussing, we are all together as one trying to keep the dream alive.”