Marchers held up a banner honoring Martin Luther King’s birthday Monday in downtown San Marcos. Photo by Christina Zambrano.
By CHRISTINA ZAMBRANO
San Marcos residents joined countless cities across the country Monday in commemorating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on a national holiday recognizing the slain civil rights leader’s birthday.
However, the celebration meant a little extra in San Marcos, where public officials unveiled the site of a coming monument at MLK and LBJ Drives. The marker will commemorate King and former President Lyndon Baines Johnson for their contributions to civil rights in the 1960s.
Johnson, a Texas State alumnus, served as U.S. President from 1963 to 1969. King was assassinated in 1968.
Monday’s celebration began on the steps of the Hays County Courthouse and then moved through the streets of San Marcos by way of a commemorative walk to the Dunbar Community Center where a reception was held in honor of King’s birthday.
Beginning on LBJ Street, 200 plus community members of all ages walked south to the intersection of LBJ and MLK Drives, where officials unveiled a marker indicating the future spot of the monument for King and Johnson.
San Marcos is said to be one of the only cities in the country where streets named after King and Johnson intersect. The monument will be sponsored by several organizations, including the San Marcos Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Dunbar Heritage Association, the Calaboose African American History Museum, the San Marcos Area Arts Council, the Arts Commission and the Common Experience Committee at Texas State University.
The memorial, which has been discussed for several years but never completed, is finally becoming a reality. Diann McCabe attributes the present momentum to perfect timing.
“It’s always been a dream,” McCabe said. “This year, with the county open to making that property available (to the City of San Marcos), with the Common Experience theme of Civic Responsibility and the legacy of LBJ, the timing was right.”
For Harvey Miller, Chairman of the Dunbar Heritage Association, the future monument is a dream come true.
“I was excited when the city clerk called me and told me about it,” Miller said. “It’s probably something we’ll do every year. We’ll stop at that corner during the march like we did today.”
Although the marker was unveiled today, the logistics of the monument are still up in the air. Because no one organization is in charge of the project, the funding source and vision of the monument will be shared by all organizations involved.
“All of those details will emerge,” said Linda Kelsey-Jones, who has been involved in a citizens group for the monument for 15 years. “This was a big breakthrough, the county giving the city the land, which is pretty basic to being able to do this.”
The unveiling of the marker coupled with the theme of this year’s celebration, “Realizing the Dream,” rang true for many San Marcos residents as this year’s celebration falls on the eve of the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American President.
Said Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) in a statement read at the unveiling, “(Today’s unveiling) is especially appropriate on the day before the inauguration of President Barack Obama, who’s election most certainly is the result of the courageous leadership advancing civil rights provided by President Johnson and Dr. King.”Email | Print