In-person MLK March canceled again due to COVID-19 surge, virtual ideas needed

Decision ‘broke all our hearts’ says MLK Commission chair

The San Antonio Martin Luther King Jr. Commission board decided on Thursday to cancel the annual MLK March for 2022.

SAN ANTONIO – After voting Thursday to cancel the Martin Luther King Jr. March set for January 17 again this year due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the MLK Jr. Commission will meet Monday to make its next decision.

Renee Watson, chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, said, “How do we pivot to a virtual environment? What are we going to do?”

She said the commission invites the public to offer their ideas and feedback on its Facebook page.

Confronted by the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases and the 27% positivity rate, Watson said, “It breaks all of our hearts that we’re still in this environment.”

This will be the second year in a row the pandemic has forced the commission to cancel the in-person march, which has become the nation’s largest, drawing as many as 300,000 people.

Last year, the march went virtual with a pre-produced version of the march, which will be updated and again posted on the city’s YouTube page and the commission’s Facebook page. That same video will be updated.

Watson said it was important for the commission to partner with Metro Health in organizing a pop-up vaccination clinic and set up a testing site in Pittman-Sullivan Park, where the community would gather before and after the march.

“With all of the underserved communities and all of the underlying conditions that we have, we don’t want anyone to die on our watch,” Watson said.

Watson said they are still working out the logistics, and a spokesman for Metro Health said nothing has been finalized yet.

Although the MLK March was canceled, “The rest of Dream Week, 200 or so events, are still going to happen,” said Shokare Nakpodia, founder of DreamVoice.

Beginning January 13 through the end of the month, he said there will be virtual events and other in-person events, which won’t involve large crowds.

Nakpodia said Dream Week is “the largest community curated summit of its kind in the nation,” celebrating tolerance, diversity and equality.

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.