By Steve Walker
Tomorrow is the 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March. This year’s keynote speaker is recognized and nationally known journalist Roland Martin.
I look forward to once again making the 2.75 mile trek along Martin Luther King Drive to the Pittman Sullivan YMCA for the festivities. As one who has marched and participated consecutively for the last 20 plus years without missing, I am ready to do it again.
Up until 2007 I was strictly a marcher and active participant in the yearly tribute as a Balcones Heights Councilman, and American Federation of Teachers Union President representing Harlandale ISD. From 2009 to 2012 I marched as a Judge and was also blessed to simultaneously cover the March by taking photos of the event for my photoblog, the Walker Report. I am still covering the march for the Walker Report.
In 1981 when I was the President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, our chapter was one of the first non-African-American organizations in San Antonio who endorsed a National Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday when it wasn’t that popular to do so. As president I received lots of phone messages that were not that complimentary about the chapter openly endorsing the move for the national holiday.
On the positive side, because of that endorsement, I was asked as President to speak to the first group of about 500 people who gathered at MLK Plaza to unofficially celebrate the occasion. It was my first public speech before a major crowd. The following year MLK Jr. Day became a nationally recognized holiday.
During my coverage in photos of the March, I have covered Grand Marshalls, well-known personalities to include civil rights activists Dr. Joseph Lowry and Congressman John Lewis and other notables who marched with Dr. King in the 50s and 60s.
Over the years other events honoring King include a youth summit, a wreath-laying ceremony, a citywide interfaith worship service, musical performances and art exhibit.
The commission will award thousands of dollars in scholarships to local students through the Commission’s Dream Scholar Program and Scholarship Fund.
In 2012 the guest speaker was Martin Luther King III, eldest son of the slain civil rights leader. I was fortunate to have covered MLK III a few years earlier for a program on poverty when he visited San Antonio to be a speaker at a conference. For me that was a thrilling experience. In 1982 I met Coretta Scott King when she visited San Antonio.
During the 2013 event MLK III told a reporter that he was overwhelmed that San Antonio would turn out in force to honor his father. He noted that the March would have truly impressed his dad.
In his speech to the throng of marchers estimated at 100 thousand, MLK III said in part, “You love because you know God calls you to do that. And when we embrace that kind of love, we will move America and the entire world forward. We’ve got to have that kind of love for humankind.”
Last year’s crowd was also estimated at 300-thousand plus.
Assuming this year’s event will continue to attract supporters and followers of Dr. King, we can look forward to another successful celebration of the legacy of the national civil rights leader.
When you look at the make-up of the marchers you will see persons of all colors, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds as well as all ages. Hispanic community leaders and elected Latinos are well represented.
We can expect to see former mayors as well as the current Mayor and a number of city council members and state reps. as well as the Castro brothers who march every year.
If you haven’t ever participated, now might be the time to do so. Don’t forget to be sure to wear some comfortable shoes for the 2.75 mile March to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
And as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”