MLK Commission asks city to triple its contribution

The commission holds the largest MLK March in the nation, but says it needs more help from the city

SAN ANTONIO – After two years of modified and canceled marches due to the pandemic, the San Antonio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission is ready to bring back the country’s largest MLK March in January.

But members of the MLK Commission and its supporters said they need more money from the city -- three times more.

“I’m (going to) walk away with my march saying $300,000, $300,000, $300,000,” Linda Tippins told San Antonio City Council members as she left the podium during a Thursday budget hearing.

The MLK Commission is in charge of organizing the annual MLK March on the East Side but also organizes other activities to recognize the legacy of Dr. King, such as awarding scholarships.

While the current budget proposal for the city in FY 2023 would provide $100,000 to the commission, its members want council members to approve $300,000 when they vote on the final version.

Commission Budget Chair Russell Le Day said the cost of the stage alone is $110,000, and the total cost of the march, including some of the associated events, costs about $220,000 -- likely more now with increasing costs.

“It’s basically the march because you’re talking about the speaker -- that’s not even in there,” he told reporters. “And to get a speaker that’s going to really share that vision and be a noted speaker, you’re going to be looking at anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 for just the speaker alone.”

Le Day said if the city were to increase its contribution to the commission, it would take pressure off of other fundraising efforts.

“Our scholarship fund definitely works really well, and we’d like to -- the fundraising -- to support the scholarships instead of having to use those fundraising dollars to support the activities,” he told council members.

District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, whose East Side district is host to the annual march, said he planned to submit the funding increase as a budget amendment, though he did not yet know from where the money might come.

“I think most council members will have significant asks. I think this is a very small one. And so I’m hopeful that we might even be able to do this without, without having to take money from anywhere else,” he said.

Le Day said the commission still had an additional $10,000 in city funds left in city coffers from the 2022 march, which was canceled just days before due to COVID-19 concerns. The 2021 march was held virtually.

The council is scheduled to vote on its $3.1 billion budget on Sep. 15.

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Recommended Videos