Black History in San Antonio: the man behind the city’s MLK march

Reverend Raymond A. Callies credited with starting march in 1968

Rev. Callies is credited with laying the ground work for San Antonio's MLK march, one of the largest in the country.

SAN ANTONIO – “Reverend Callies started marching before people even knew what marching was,” said Renee Watson, current chair of the MLK Commission. “He is a founder and a pioneer. And we don’t allow him to be left out of the conversation about the MLK march.”

Reverend Dr. Raymond A. Callies Sr. was known as a community activist who fought for better conditions for African-Americans in San Antonio. He studied and followed the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“When Dr. King was assassinated, that took him to a different level,” Watson said.

According to the book ‘The Man Behind the March’, the first march in honor of MLK took place just two days after the assassination.

San Antonio is known to have one of the largest MLK marches in the country.

RELATED: Front pages show the evolution of the MLK March in San Antonio

Callies continually fought for better infrastructure like the street lights and the construction of the freedom bridge on the city’s Eastside. He also fought to continue Dr. King’s legacy by raising funds and working with local leaders to build the statue in MLK Plaza, change the name of Martin Luther King Jr. Academy and MLK drive.

In 1986, then-Mayor Henry Cisneros established the MLK commission to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King through scholarships, acts of service and events. Rev. Callies led the march committee.

Cisneros also established the MLK award which goes to local activists whose contributions reflected the principles of Dr. King’s. Callies was the first to be presented with that award.

Callies passed away in 2011. Today many still remember him as a beloved pastor, woodshop teacher and local Black hero. You can read about his life and legacy and hear testimony from those who knew him in ‘The Man Behind the March’ written by one of his sons, Arlington R. Callies.


About the Author:

Alyssa Medina is the Video-On-Demand Producer and has worked at KSAT since 2016. She creates exclusive content for the KSAT-TV streaming app. Some of her most notable contributions focus on race and culture or health and wellness. She's created the segments 'Creating Black History in S.A.' and 'New Week. New You."