Years ago, Henry Ford had a dream.
“I didn’t see anything that honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his holiday,” he said. “I told my wife that all people would do was just sit around and have a good time on another holiday. “She told me to do something about it and I began asking around, and that’s how we got this started.”
Ford is referring to the birth of New Braunfels’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day March, which celebrates its fifth year at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20. Thousands of people of all races will walk through the heart of the city to honor the slain civil rights leader.
In previous years, the MLK March procession began at Prince Solms Park, traveled down San Antonio Street and across the Comal River bridge on its way into Main Plaza — which had to be altered this year due to the bridge closure.
“The route will start at the New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center and will go down to Main Plaza to have a brief ceremony, just like we normally do, and then go back down to the Civic Center for the main ceremony,” Ford said. “Instead of having a speaker, we’ll have (the band) Soul Sessions, which will perform at the Civic Center.”
Ford said Soul Sessions will perform songs that for 60 years or more have been synonymous to the civil rights movement, each introduced by a narrator touching upon each one’s significance.
Additionally the University of Texas-San Antonio Gospel Singers will perform, with members of Canyon High School’s Black Student Union also scheduled to appear.
Participants will be given lyric sheets to songs of the civil rights movement, which include “We Shall Overcome,” “Ain’t Going to Let Anyone Turn Me Around,” “On My Way to Freedom” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
“We realized that there are different ways to learn and appreciate the struggle for civil rights and Dr. King,” said Susan Tate, MLK Association assistant treasurer. “We also want to attract younger people and have an appeal to children — which is the reason for singing during the march.”
Ford said volunteers interested in helping stage the MLK March can contact him at 830-214-4358. Tate said the march is one of several events leading into February, Black History Month.
“When our association was formed it was for the purpose of honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by having an annual march and ceremony on MLK Day,” she said. “We feel confident that we have been successful in such a purpose, given the work of our volunteers and support of our city officials and staff and our supporters.
“We are now working to expand our activities which will further advance the teachings of Dr. King.”
“The Long March,” a historical exhibit of civil rights-era political cartoons penned by three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Herbert L. Block, is currently on display at New Braunfels Public Library, 700 E. Common St., where an HBO documentary of Block’s works, “The Black and The White,” will be shown at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12.
A family event, “The Power of Words & Dr. King,” will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 at Westside Community Center, 2932 S. Interstate 35 frontage road in New Braunfels.
“We’ll read ‘Martin’s BIG Words,’ and make and decorate signs to carry at the march,” Tate said. “We’ll learn civil rights songs and will practice marching.”
On March day, the Civic Center will open at 9 a.m. and feature three tables: one T-shirt sales, another for voter registration by members of the League of Women Voters of the Comal Area, and a third for information on the 2020 U.S. Census, the NBMLK scholarship and the NBMLK Achievement Award. The Herblock exhibit will move to the Civic Center from Jan. 20-24.
Families and individuals of all ages are welcome for the family event. Participants are asked to register through the New Braunfels Public Library calendar, send an email to email@example.com, or call Tate at 830-708-6065.