By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
Hays County and the City of San Marcos are negotiating an agreement that could result in the county turning over 1,300 square feet at the corner of MLK and LBJ Streets so the city can build a memorial to the two men after whom those streets are named – Martin Luther King and Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The county commissioners voted last week, 4-0, to authorize Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) to work out an arrangement, either a long-term lease or a ceding of the property to the city.
“It’s really good to see us moving forward and developing agreements to reach this goal,” Ingalsbe said.
San Marcos Councilmember Chris Jones said the project is shaping up as a cooperative enterprise between the city, county, Texas State University and the Calaboose African-American History Museum.
Jones said it’s appropriate for the project to gain momentum now, as “one of the gatekeepers of African-American history in San Marcos has recently passed away,” referring to Johnny Armstead, who operated the Calaboose Museum.
The project also fits with the Common Experience theme this year at Texas State, which is remembering Johnson, a Texas State graduate who operated as U.S. Senate majority leader and Vice President before serving as the U.S. President from 1963 to 1969.
Jones said the intersection of MLK and LBJ Streets in San Marcos is the only spot where Johnson and King are known to have met face to face.
As President, Johnson pushed through landmark “Great Society” reforms, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King argued for African-American equality based on the ideals set forth in the U.S. Constitution before his assassination in 1968.
“The intersection of these two men has influenced all of us, and especially here in Texas,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle).
Diann McCabe, Associate Director of the honors program at Texas State, said the actual design of the project is yet to be determined. McCabe added that the university will put its own resources into the project. McCabe also serves with the LBJ Museum, the Calaboose Museum, the San Marcos Arts Commission and the Common Experience program.
Jones said the project’s advocates thought it wise to first secure the location before taking additional steps to design the memorial.
Timetables for the project are yet to be determined.