MLK’s legacy in the Latino community
As we take time today to ponder the legacy of the late Martin Luther King Jr., it is important to note that the civil rights leader was fighting for justice for all Americans. That includes Latinos.
There is even more to commemorate this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches in Alabama–from Selma to Montgomery–that helped spur the passage of the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act.
King based his idea of nonviolent protest on Mahatma Gandhi’s strategy for India’s independence from British Empire decades before. The important farmworkers’ protests, led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, followed King’s model.
MLK was more than an inspiring symbol: he provided emotional and public relations succor to the Latino Civil Rights Movement.
King’s inspiration can still be drawn upon today, as the fight for economic and social justice continues.
The national example of impact on the Latino community
To showcase King’s impact on the Latino community, one need look no further than San Antonio, Texas. That’s correct: the seventh-largest city in the nation, boasting a Latino population of a whopping 63 percent, with just seven percent African-Americans, holds what is deemed the largest MLK celebration in the country.
This celebration is not a one-day affair. It spans 12 days and is aptly named “DreamWeek.”
DreamWeek’s mission is “to continue to advance and modernize the teachings set forth by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision by creating dialogue across cultures and communities.”
“Dr. King’s legacy is very much alive within the Latino community. His dream is a universal one. As a community, Latinos strive toward social equality and justice. Dr. King’s message embodies the spirit, strength and progress we continue to push for, and serves as an inspiration on a daily basis,” states DreamVoice Public Relations Specialist Cassandra Yardeni.
Yesterday, there was a wreath-laying ceremony at the city’s statue to King.
Today, there will be a two-and-three-quarter mile march down San Antonio’s Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, with over 100,000 attending. Interestingly, the city’s serpentine Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard starts nearby, just a block westward.
Bay Area events
There are myriad Bay Area events commemorating the life of Dr. King.
If you are on the Peninsula, there is an 8:30am MLK event at the San Mateo Caltrain station, with a “Freedom Ride” to San Francisco at 10am.
If in San Francisco, take part in the annual MLK Day festival, march and parade around Yerba Buena Gardens. Attend a full day of free events, festivals and programs, plus a march and parade, commencing at 11am, from the Caltrain station to Yerba Buena Gardens to commemorate the Selma to Montgomery march.
While there is still much to be done as far as Latino civil rights, the gains made in the past five decades are owed in part to Martin Luther King, Jr.
As King so eloquently stated: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Words to remember today, and every day.