With approximately 300,000 people in attendance each year, San Antonio’s Martin Luther King Jr. march has been called the largest in the nation honoring the slain civil rights leader — a recognition that certainly makes the city proud.
The signature event, which is organized each year by the city’s all-volunteer MLK, Jr. Commission, was first held on January 19, 1987 and started with the help of the Rev. Dr. Raymond A. Callies, Sr.
Callies, who was a community leader and a 30-year employee of the San Antonio Independent School District, began leading processions honoring Dr. King’s legacy soon after his death in April 1968, and was the first recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievement Award.
The day of the march, which takes place on San Antonio’s Eastside, begins with an early worship ceremony and concludes with a commemorative program, featuring a keynote address, where folks gather in celebration with food, music and presentations.
In addition to the march, the MLK Commission holds meetings and events throughout the year and administers the Martin Luther King Jr., Scholarship Program, giving thousands of dollars each year to local high school students to help fund a portion of their college tuition.
This past year, the march’s 30th anniversary, events included a jazz performance, a pictorial history art exhibition and the annual Gospel Choir Extravaganza. The theme, “King’s Legacy For Peace is Justice For All,” rang through the streets as thousands crossed over the Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Bridge. Signs with “Black Lives Matter” and Dr. King quotes were seen throughout the three-mile march.
And come next January, the massive crowd will again gather as San Antonio honors the legacy and fight for civil rights.