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Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Photo: Francis Miller/LIFE

Martin Luther King Jr. March to follow new route

(Jan. 3, 2005)--Each year, a variety of educational, inspirational and celebratory events in San Antonio honors one of the nation's most revered civil rights leaders. The signature event, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. March on January 17, again is expected to draw nearly 70,000 adults and children for a march through the East Side. San Antonio hosts the largest march in the United States.

The march will depart from its usual starting point of the Eastside Boys and Girls Club, 3503 Martin Luther King Drive, but will conclude at a new site, Pittman-Sullivan Park, 1101 Iowa Street. The event takes place on the official King holiday, Monday, Jan. 17, beginning at 10 a.m.

"This march has grown from a small contingent of participants to the largest march in the nation paying tribute to Dr. King," said District 2 Councilman Joel Williams, honorary MLK March chair. "With that growth comes the necessity for a larger venue where the marchers and our elderly citizens can gather to hear the inspiring messages that take place during the program."

Last year, nearly 70,000 local residents and visitors paid homage to King during the march, which is organized by the City of San Antonio MLK Commission.

Joseph Lowery, president emeritus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), is this year's keynote speaker at the march program. Lowery, who resides in Atlanta, founded the SCLC with King and other key figures in the civil rights movement.

The SCLC played a pivotal role in many key events and its coordination of activities led to many history-making changes such as the Civil Rights Act. An acclaimed gospel quartet, The Canton Spirituals, will perform at the event. The award-winning group from Canton, Miss., is known for its deep and rich Southern sound.

The 2005 MLK March and Commemorative Program marks King's 76th birthday and the 18th anniversary of the national holiday in his honor. "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off" is the national theme.

People of all ages, races, religions and backgrounds are expected to pay tribute to King's legacy during the event. The massive crowd will head west on MLK Drive from the Boys & Girls Club to New Braunfels Street, then proceed south to Iowa Street and go west to the baseball diamond at Pittman-Sullivan Park.

A City of San Antonio garbage truck will lead the way. The truck symbolizes continuing civil rights efforts in honor of King who was assassinated April 4, 1968, just a few weeks after marching in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn.

The march is the highlight of several weeks of commemorative events and activities throughout San Antonio during January and February to honor King. The MLK Commission coordinates the commemoration. An events calendar will be listed at the City of San Antonio MLK Commemoration Web site.

For more information, call (210) 207-7235.

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