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Government/Politics

San Antonio March Continues Legacy Of Martin Luther King Jr.

Excy Guardado keeps the beat witha handheld drum as girls from the Martinez Street Women's Center youth development program sing at the MLK Day march Jan. 15, 2018.
Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
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Excy Guardado keeps the beat witha handheld drum as girls from the Martinez Street Women's Center youth development program sing at the MLK Day march.

Issues of civil rights continue to motivate San Antonians to march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Thousands of people participated Monday, stretching the crowd across several blocks. They carried signs in support of issues ranging from immigration and women’s rights to racial justice and equality.

Corporations, religious organizations and politicians also marched. One group marched against abortion.

For Monica Stovall, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day to reflect on the efforts of people who fought so she could have more rights.

“It’s a day on, not a day off for me. When I think about the struggle and what my ancestors, my parents and grandparents had to go through to get me to this state, then to me this is special,” said Stovall, who is African American.

Billy Ray Sheppard said he’s marching for unity across racial and political lines.

“Living together and progressing as a people, with a purpose of living this life to the fullest and letting everybody enjoy their own,” said Sheppard, who came to the march with his family.

Thousands of people took part in the 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Day March.
Credit Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
Thousands of people took part in this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day march.

The Martinez Street Women’s Center was one of only a few groups that sang and chanted while they marched.

The center brought girls from their youth empowerment group, Girls Zone, and sang songs such as “Which Side Are You On?”

The center’s Vikki Ramirez said they let the girls decide what issues to support.

“We’re hoping for safer neighborhoods, solidarity with others, unification as well as immigrant rights, against police brutality — all sorts of stuff,” Ramirez said.

A Black Lives Matter activist leads a chant as protesters holding a banner block much of the road during the MLK Day march Jan. 15, 2018.
Credit Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
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A Black Lives Matter activist leads a chant as protesters holding a banner block much of the road during the MLK Day march.

When the women’s center and the Girls Zone came across a line of people blocking the road with a Black Lives Matter banner, they stopped and joined in.

"If we’re going to march like MLK, we’re going to march for justice. So that’s why we’re not marching today, because these names that you see here, they can’t march no more,” one activist said through a bull horn.

Every person holding the banner also held the name of someone killed by police.

Like the women’s center, Stephanie Galan also marched in support of immigration. Her daughters Illiana and Isabella carried signs supporting equality.

“With what’s going on with Trump wanting to ban immigrants to our country, and we have a lot of family members that  immigrated from Mexico, so I think it’s very important to us that we keep that open,” Galan said.

While Galan doesn’t have any family members affected by immigration issues, the Northside teacher said she knows students will have their education interrupted if they have to leave the country.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille