On Monday, San Antonio marks its 52nd annual march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. One of the largest in the United States, it is expected to attract as many as 300,000 participants.

As usual, elected officials will participate by marching and addressing the crowd. Because 2020 is an election year, candidates running for office will likely have a strong presence at the march.

“This is not just a day of remembrance but truly a time to come together for something greater than self,” said Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan (D2) in a Friday news release. “We are truly grateful for the City of San Antonio to have one of the biggest marches in the country, but we are even more grateful to have a community stand in equality and inclusion. “

The 2.75-mile march starts at the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy at 3501 Martin Luther King Dr. and ends at Pittman-Sullivan Park (find the route here). The event culminates with a series of speeches commemorating the holiday, including a keynote address from John Adolph, a Beaumont pastor who leads Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

The Baptist pastor will speak about effecting societal change, said Mia Morris, the commission’s commemorative program chair, a topic that aligns with this year’s march theme: “Dream. Believe. Unite. Do.”

“He embodies what Dr. King stood for, not just by being a pastor,” Morris said. “He embodies the principles of fairness and equality, empathy, love for fellow man, inclusion.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes), State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio), Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, and San Antonio Police Chief William McManus also will speak as part of the post-march festivities at Pittman-Sullivan Park.

Violinist Daniel D and gospel singer Koryn Hawthorne, who has competed on NBC television series The Voice and nabbed two Grammy nominations for her debut studio album, will perform.

Starting at 9:30 a.m., vendors will be set up at the park, and attendees can sit and listen to worship bands, live music, and mini-sermons. People can shop for food, handmade goods, books, and clothes from more than 50 vendors after the march, as well as donate blood at a blood donor mobile.

“Our [morning] program starts as the people start to march to the park, so usually there are a lot of people here who choose not to march or are not able to march,” Morris said.

The local committee working to promote participation in the 2020 Census also will have a presence at Monday’s march to push the Census 2020 “Get Counted” campaign.

“Every year, the people of San Antonio come together and celebrate the largest MLK March in the world,” Nirenberg said in a news release Friday. “We march not only in an act of solidarity to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, but to advance his vision of love, peace and justice for all. This year is truly special as we are working on fulfilling Dr. King’s vision of civic engagement by promoting that everyone gets counted during the 2020 Census.”

People looking to avoid traffic can take advantage of VIA Metropolitan Transit’s free bus service to the march. Buses will take people to the march from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. from the Freeman Coliseum at 3201 E. Houston St. and from St. Philip’s College at 1801 Martin Luther King Dr. Buses will start returning people to those two locations from noon to 3 p.m. at Pittman-Sullivan Park.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Commission not only organizes the march each year, but also raises money for scholarships. This year, the commission aims to raise $100,000 and has already raised $65,000, Morris said. Eventually, the commission hopes to raise its yearly fundraising goal to $1 million.

“We want to keep building that fund up and help kids realize their dreams of whatever they desire to be,” Morris said.

Some roads will close along the march route:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from Hein Road to Bookertee Road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. until the MLK march reaches Interstate 10.
  • Interstate 10 exit ramps for Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will be closed from 9:15 a.m. until the MLK march reaches New Braunfels Avenue.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. from Hein Road to New Braunfels Avenue, New Braunfels Avenue from Montana Street to Aransas Avenue, Iowa Street from New Braunfels Avenue to Pine Street will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
  • Iowa Street will remain closed between New Braunfels Avenue and Palmetto from noon-4:30 p.m.

Only residents can access the following areas after 10 a.m.:

  • Dilworth Street from New Braunfels Avenue to Welhousen Street
  • Harding Place from New Braunfels Avenue to Welhousen Street
  • Nevada Street from New Braunfels Avenue to Connelly Street
  • Dakota Street from New Braunfels Avenue to Connelly Street
  • St. Anthony Avenue from Iowa Street to Virginia Boulevard
  • Palmetto from Virginia Boulevard to Montana Street
  • Martin Luther King Drive from Piedmont Avenue to Palmetto
  • Nevada Street from Piedmont Avenue to New Braunfels Avenue (VIA Park and Ride)
  • Paul Street from Piedmont Avenue to Palmetto
  • Dakota Street from Toledo Street to New Braunfels Avenue (School Bus pickup)
  • Wyoming Street from Toledo Street to Palmetto
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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.