Annual MLK Day Celebration to Begin with Rally on Campus

The 20th annual community march celebrating the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will begin with a rally at the Martin Luther King Jr. Statue on the East Mall at The University of Texas at Austin at 9 a.m. on Jan. 21.

"We are honored to welcome community members, faculty, staff and students as they begin the annual march from the university to the state Capitol and on to Huston-Tillotson University," said Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement. "The march is a reminder of the tremendous efforts and personal sacrifices of those in the civil rights movement, and we hope it encourages participants to work for equity and social justice now."

Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin, will provide the welcome. The Honorable Wilhelmina Delco and UT Alumni Marlen D. Whitley, Esq.J.D., 2001, The University of Texas School of Law; President, Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, 2000-2001; B.A., African American Studies and History, 1998 will speak. The event will include performances by the Innervisions Gospel Choir and Sam Buford, 5th grade winner of the MLK Oratory Contest from Maplewood Elementary School.

Delco will be the grand marshal as marchers proceed from the statue to the Capitol, where the Sweet Home Baptist Church Choir will perform. The march will continue from the Capitol to Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St., where a community festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The festival will feature performances by Les and the Funk Mob, MirrorImage Dem Twinz, and the Nelson Saga Band.

This year, marchers are being asked to donate canned goods or nonperishable food items to be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank. Bins are available at each location.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration has previously drawn up to 15,000 people, according to the Austin Area Heritage Council, which coordinates events. The celebration events are sponsored by multiple community organizations, including the university's Department of African and African Diaspora Studies.

Free Parking for the March is available at UT's Disch Faulk Field (1300 E. MLK Blvd.), State Visitors Garage (Corner of 12thand San Jacinto St. downtown Austin), Kealing Middle School (1607 Pennsylvania Avenue), Holy Cross Catholic Church (1610 E. 11th), Blackshear Elementary (1712 E. 11th), Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church (1801 Pennsylvania Avenue), Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church (1206 E. 9th) and Mt. Olive Baptist Church (1800 E. 11th).