SAN ANTONIO – Hundreds of thousands of people marched through the East Side on Monday to honor the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The MLK March in San Antonio is considered to be among the largest in the U.S. and draws up to an estimated 300,000 people annually.
Among those who marched was Nia Mapp, whose mother marched in Montgomery, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement. Mapp said this day means so much to her.
"I'm just so grateful for the opportunities that have been afforded to me and other people for whom Dr. King's work. So I'm out here to represent and celebrate that," she said.
The 2.75-mile trek began at 10 a.m. at MLK Academy and ended at Pittman-Sullivan Park.
When asked why so many San Antonians turn out for the event, Natasha Flowers Pinnix, principle at MLK Academy said, “San Antonio is a diverse city, and we all come together on this day and it does highlight the differences, but it also shows that we can come together for one nation,”
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, whose district stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, said he was proud to see such a large crowd.
“It’s great that San Antonio is an example for the rest of the world. We’re honoring a man who not only changed our laws and our institutions, but he was trying to the hardest part, which is to change people’s hearts and minds because we still have discrimination in our hearts and minds. And today is an example of how we try to expunge that,” he said.
Prior to the march, an early morning worship program was held at MLK Academy, where community members enjoyed music, dance performances, praise, worship and remarks from religious and community leaders.
City Hall and most municipal offices were closed for the national holiday.
VIA Metropolitan Transit operated a special event Park and Ride service to the march.
The late Rev. Dr. Raymond “R.A.” Callies, Sr. began the City of San Antonio’s MLK March in 1968 to call attention to the need for basic infrastructure on the city’s east side.
“His efforts have resulted in what has become one of the largest commemorative marches for Dr. King in the United States and possibly the world,” according to the city’s website.
The MLK Jr. Commission and City of San Antonio held the first official Martin Luther King, Jr. March on Jan. 19, 1987.