Local woman gears up to keep Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marchers well hydrated

Janice Brock has been handing out free water bottles for more than a decade

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – As thousands of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marchers set out for their roughly three-mile course for the first time in two years, Janice Brock will be on the sidelines, doing more than cheering them on.

The Northeast Side resident has made it her business to make sure participants are well-hydrated.

For the past 13 years, she has been collecting donations of water bottles, then passing them out to people who pass by her table, free of charge.

“I’m hoping when I hand them that bottle of water that they know that somebody cared enough that they came out to help march,” she said.

San Antonio’s march honoring civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is billed as the largest of its kind in the country.

During the pandemic, though, the in-person celebration was suspended due to COVID concerns. Organizers held virtual marches in 2021 and 2022.

Brock was in the middle of celebrating the Christmas and New Year holidays when she found out about this year’s MLK Day plans.

“I said, ‘Oh Lord. This is short notice,’” she said. “I made a couple of phone calls at the last minute and look at God!”

As of the Thursday before the march, Brock was able to gather nearly 1,400 bottles of donated water.

Still, her goal is to collect enough to give every marcher refreshments.

She says she came up with the idea as a way to set an example for her own children, while also following in the footsteps of people who came before her.

“I grew up seeing Dr. Martin Luther King and all the other persons and freedom riders,” Brock said. “They sacrificed a lot.”

She says she hopes her gift of water might cause a ripple effect, of people showing kindness toward others.

In the meantime, she already is seeing some of that kindness come back to her.

When Brock first started her mission, she used the front yard of a home on Martin Luther King Drive where her mother lived.

Two other families have owned the home since then and have been generous toward her when it comes to using the space.

“They allow me to come and use their yard,” she said. “They told me you never have to ask again. You already know it’s yours.”

If you’re heading to the march this year, you can find Brock in the 3200 block of Martin Luther King Drive.

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About the Authors:

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.