Organizers prepare for first in-person MLK March in 3 years

Annual march was held virtually in 2021 and 2022; in-person march scheduled for Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

San Antonio – After two years of making due with virtual events, organizers of San Antonio’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day March are ready to draw big crowds once more.

“The last year that we marched in 2020, I was told that we had right at about 300,000,” said Dwayne Robinson, chairman of the San Antonio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.

“I’m hoping for at least 50,000 more,” he said of the annual march, which is believed to be one of the biggest in the country.

Less than a year into the pandemic and with vaccines not yet widely available, the January 2021 march was held virtually. The January 2022 march was supposed to be a return to normal, but a spike in COVID-19 cases derailed those plans and caused the march to be held virtually once more.

Robinson said he encouraged members of the commission, which organizes the march and surrounding events, to make “sure that we took care of the basics coming out of the pandemic.”

Commission members successfully lobbied San Antonio City Council members in September to triple the original, proposed contribution of city funds from $100,000 to $300,000.

Robinson said the extra money “allows us, number one, to just, like, firstly breathe,” given that the stage alone costs more than $100,000.

“Then there’s always this thought and that we think so much about the march, but there are other activities that we do as part of the commission. So now we’re able to better fund them, like our Youth Summit, our scholarship, our wreath-laying ceremony, interfaith service. So now we’ll have a little bit more flexibility,” Robinson said.

Commission Budget Chair Russell Le Day had previously told reporters that getting a “noted speaker” could cost $30,000 to $50,000.

Robinson would not tell KSAT who the commission had lined up as a keynote speaker for the 2023 march beyond saying “it will be the equivalent to the stature of what we do here in San Antonio.”

The commission announced its theme for the march though on Dec. 16 as “Together We Can Be THE Dream.”

The 2023 march will begin at 10 a.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, 3501 Martin Luther King Drive, and ends at Pittman-Sullivan Park, 1101 Iowa St., where the park celebration will be held.

CLICK HERE more information on the march and surrounding events.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.