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MLK Day in San Antonio: Images from the Early Years

January 18, 2013

San Antonio is known for sponsoring one of the nation’s largest observances honoring the life and dream of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Over 100,000 people participate in the Freedom March, the signature event.

Though the first MLK Day was presented by the City in 1987, annual tributes were presented much earlier.  Rev. R.A. Callies, director of the Youth Leadership Conference for Community Progress, began organizing memorial processions and ceremonies on Dr. King’s birthday in the 1970s.  Through his leadership, and others, the city council passed a resolution establishing the MLK Commission, a volunteer organization that coordinates the city’s official commemoration of the life and legacy of Dr. King.

Photographs taken by local photojournalists document some of the early MLK Day celebrations in San Antonio.  Below is a sample from the San Antonio Express-News Collection (MS 360) and San Antonio Light Collection  (MS 359) that are housed in UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Rev. R. A. Callies, pastor of the Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, addresses gathering on Alamo Plaza following a memorial procession on the anniversary of Dr. King’s birthday, January 15, 1978. (MS 360: E-0043-116-28)

Rev. R. A. Callies, pastor of the Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, addresses gathering on Alamo Plaza following a memorial procession on the anniversary of Dr. King’s birthday, January 15, 1978. (MS 360: E-0043-116-28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commemorative Freedom March, January 20, 1986. (E-1986-1-20A-41)

Commemorative Freedom March, January 20, 1986. (E-1986-1-20A-41)

Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks rides a vintage city bus in the first annual city-sponsored Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom March, January 19, 1987. (MS 360-1-19A-35)

Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks rides in a vintage city bus in the first annual city-sponsored Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom March, January 19, 1987. (MS 360-1-19A-35)

Rosa Parks speaks to a large gathering at the end of the march, January 19, 1987. (MS 360: E-1987-1-19A-29)

Rosa Parks speaks to a large gathering at the end of the march, January 19, 1987. (MS 360: E-1987-1-19A-29)

Signs, banners, and political messages are carried by some of the participants as they march along Martin Luther King Boulevard in the second annual Freedom March, January 18, 1988. (MS 360: E-1988-1-18B-36)

Signs, banners, and political messages are carried by some of the participants as they march along Martin Luther King Boulevard in the second annual Freedom March, January 18, 1988. (MS 360: E-1988-1-18B-36)

Freedom March participants, January 18, 1988. (MS 360: E-1988-1-18D-39)

Freedom March participants, January 18, 1988. (MS 360: E-1988-1-18D-39)

James L. Farmer, Jr., co-founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, speaks at MLK Achievement Award Ceremonies, January 18, 1988. (E-1988-1-18C-42)

James L. Farmer, Jr., co-founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, speaks at MLK Achievement Award Ceremonies, January 18, 1988. (MS 360: E-1988-1-18C-42)

Nomonde Ngubu, organizer of mine workers in South Africa, walks with S.A. Mayor Henry Cisneros (left) and Councilman Joe Webb in the Freedom March, January 16, 1989. (MS 360: E-1989-1-16A-19)

Nomonde Ngubu, organizer of mine workers in South Africa, walks with S.A. Mayor Henry Cisneros (left) and Councilman Joe Webb in the Freedom March, January 16, 1989. (MS 360: E-1989-1-16A-19)

S. A. Mayor Lila Cockrell and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price at MLK Day wreath-laying ceremony at Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza, January 15, 1990. (MS 360: E-1990-1-15A-8)

S. A. Mayor Lila Cockrell and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price at MLK Day wreath-laying ceremony at Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza, January 15, 1990. (MS 360: E-1990-1-15A-8)

S.A. Mayor Nelson Wolff and Texas Governor Ann Richards are among the guest speakers at memorial rally following the Freedom March, January 20, 1992. (MS 359: L-7346-58-26)

S.A. Mayor Nelson Wolff (right) and Texas Governor Ann Richards are among the guests on speaker’s platform at memorial rally following the Freedom March, January 20, 1992. (MS 359: L-7346-58-26)

 

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