The Inspiration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at Lincoln       Memorial march

San Antonio, Texas is proudly home to the largest Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march in the country. However, on Thursday, Jan. 6, the city’s MLK, Jr. commission board stated, “Amid the surge of omicron cases in and around San Antonio, the city annual MLK march has been canceled.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day honors the accomplishments of King during his lifetime and the continuing effect he has on people. 

King is known for campaigning for the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which recognized that racial discrimination in voting had been more predominant in some areas of the country and aimed to apply solutions to those areas. 

Along with advocating for the Voting Rights Act, he is widely known as a key figure pushing for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination in the workplace and public spaces based on one’s race, color, religion, and place of birth. 

Now, many activists in San Antonio are encouraging members of the community to find ways to support and uplift black voices and support the sharing of their experiences while staying safe and healthy.

“I was sitting at my lunch table when this guy came up to me and pulled my hair. He was like, ‘Is this a weave?’ and normally it doesn’t matter what they think but it’s just the fact that people go out of their way to be so rude because of the way you look,” Comm Arts sophomore Autumn Houston said. 

Although the march has gone online this year, some students have gone to the in-person march in past years.

“It’s interesting because you would never think San Antonio would have the biggest march of all places,” sophomore Marcus Beverly- Hardy said. He talked about the experience he had at the march saying, “I was excited because I’ve obviously seen films and movies about Martin Luther King. It was interesting to walk in the march.” 

Having that prior experience has led Beverly-Hardy to think about how schools need a way for people of color, especially African American students, to share their stories and connect with each other. 

He said, “There should be an organization for African American students, and one for every ethnic group, where they could just meet, talk about life, their experiences, and how they’ve been treated so that actions can be taken. If there is no group or unification, then one person can’t be as powerful.” 

King had a similar sentiment when, on Aug. 28, 1963, he gathered more than 200,000 people to peacefully march at the Lincoln Memorial to demand equal justice as a group. While there, King uplifted the crowd with his “I Have a Dream” speech where he said that all men, one day, regardless of color should be brothers. 

“It’s more than my heritage, it’s who I am,” senior Dre Henry said, “and the first thing you have to do is acknowledge the racism in this country. You can’t just say you support the movements then not listen when we’re calling out discrimination and racial stigmatism.”

Houston agreed with Henry’s statement. 

“One of the best things non-black people can do to uplift black voices is to highlight them instead of talking over them,” Houston said, “things that are said about black experiences need to be resaid or retweeted, not reworded.” 

While racial stigmatism has been improved since King’s passing in 1968, there is still a lot of improvement needed. 

“There was a lesson my sister learned about eggs,” Beverly-Hardy said, “Some look different on the outside, but on the inside, it’s all the same yoke. It’s the same for people, everyone’s different, no one is above everyone else.”

To this day, King remains an inspiration to many people who feel empowered by his words and actions.

 “He stood up against the system, even when he didn’t have as many people who supported him,” Henry said, “I’m really happy that he stood up for what’s right instead of sitting back and saying change is going to happen eventually because it’s not if no one does anything. He makes me think that I can do it too, and there is no better time for change than now.”