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Hundreds gathered Monday to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by marching around the streets of downtown San Marcos. Daily Record photos by Nick Castillo

Dunbar Heritage Association, San Marcos remember legacy of MLK

Monday, January 17, 2022

Hundreds gathered Monday to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by marching around the streets of downtown San Marcos. 

Monday’s event marked the Dunbar Heritage Association’s third day of celebrating King’s legacy. DHA began honoring King on Saturday with a Kids’ Event at the San Marcos Public Library followed by the Hays County CommonUnity MLK Jr. Festival on Sunday. The events also recognized the 20th anniversary of DHA hosting the celebration.

“DHA has been doing this for 20 years now,” said Pastor Jonafa Banbury, DHA secretary. “We’re 20 years strong and we plan on continuing to do this, as the old folks say, ‘If the Lord stays the same. Amen. Amen.’” 

Monday's march highlighted the third and final day of celebrations hosted by the Dunbar Heritage Association, which marked the organization's 20th year of hosting the MLK Day events.

Monday’s MLK Day celebration began at the LBJ MLK Crossroads Memorial with a wreath laying ceremony. The wreath ceremony included an invocation by Banbury, a reading of “Why We Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day” by Elaine Cardenas, and speeches by State Rep. Erin Zwiener and local artist Robert Jones, who was commissioned to paint a diversity mural near the crossroad memorial. 

“We’re living in a time with a lot of challenges,” Zwiener said. “Whether those challenges are related to covid, which has touched all of our communities. Whether those challenges are related to access to voting. Whether those challenges are economic, part of the fallout of COVID-19. But I think what’s important for us to remember is that the United States is a beautiful dream. But it’s a dream that we’re working every single day to realize better. And every day we have to wake up and ask ourselves the question: ‘Who is being left out today? And how do we get them at the table engaged and make sure their voice is part of the process.’”

Above, State Rep. Erin Zwiener speaks during the wreath laying ceremony at the LBJ MLK Crossroads Memorial on Monday. 

Following the march around downtown, the crowd gathered at Dunbar Park for a ceremony highlighted with the singing of “Lift Every Voice;” a dance by Sandra Organ Solis; and  guest speaker Dr. DeAunderia Bowens, who shared a message of, “history, heritage and honor.” 

Above, Sandra Organ Solis leads the crowd gathered at Dunbar Park in a dance.

“I’m just learning the rich history that exists here within San Marcos,” Bowens said. “From Mr. (Harvey) Miller, who organized celebrations around Juneteenth, Black History Month, he founded the Dunbar Heritage Association, and events like this one. And, oh yes, many will appreciate this, he was that ‘good-looking fella.’ And to Johnnie Armstead, who headed the preservation of the Cephas House, the establishment of the Eddie Dunbar Park, and founded the Calaboose African American History Museum. And people like Ollie Giles, who always had passion and push to get things done. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting any of these icons. But what I can say is their spirit remains, and it remains here in events like this that preserve history, that bring us close and remind us of collective dreams of better.” 

Bowens also spoke on DHA’s theme for the three-day celebration: 20in22.

“Now, the theme of today is 20in22. Biblically, the number 20, it represents the cycle of time, specifically cycles of waiting, of labor and completion in life,” Bowens said. “Now, how many of you have labored? How many of you have been waiting for something? … We’re waiting for change. We’re waiting for transformation. We’re waiting for a move. Now, when I think about the cycle of time, I think about legacy. 

“There’s an institutional memory that still remains in those who were a part of this community that is being passed on right now,” Bowens added. “A generational transference of knowledge and wisdom to preserve this legacy. Now, this valiant effort isn’t without labor, trials and disappointments. But it is creating wisdom to be passed down to feature generations.” 

Above, Dr. DeAunderia Bowens speaks in front of a crowd gathered at Eddie Dunbar Park on Monday.

As Bowens finished her speech, she asked the crowd who would continue to carry out MLK and the community’s respective legacies? 

“20in22 is not the end,” Bowens said. “Even as we stop now to honor this beautiful heritage, we will continue to rehearse the stories of those who came before us. Will you be the ones who continue to pass on this legacy? Will you be the ones who don’t forget, who continue to remember and pass down this oral history, this tradition, the understanding of what was here before and never let anyone forget the journey that it has taken? ... Who will continue to carry this legacy? Who will take the baton and continue to run on? Which generations will come together and create something new?”

San Marcos Record

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