By MICHELLE ROBERTS
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated: 1:21 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, 2010
Published: 3:06 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, 2010
SAN ANTONIO — Tens of thousands of San Antonio residents, some holding portraits of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and banners proclaiming "We believe," marched in honor of the slain civil rights leader Monday.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White joined the 23rd annual march — one of the nation's largest honoring King. The marchers included university students, and members of church and civic groups. No crowd estimate was immediately available. An estimated 100,000 people joined the march last year.
Erma Kidsy clutched a coffee cup in gloved hands at the start of the march in misty weather.
"You know I know where I come from," the near-80-year-old said, adding that Monday's march was meant "to represent Dr. King, for the things he put in motion before he left this world."
King was assassinated in 1968.
"We're still moving forward with the dream," Kidsy said.
Some marchers sang "We shall overcome," an anthem of 1960s civil rights workers, while others chanted "Yes, we can," the slogan used by President Barack Obama's campaign.
Kathy Johnson pulled three of her smallest grandchildren piled in a red wagon over the 2.75-mile route because the 45-year-old said she wants them to learn about those who came before them.
"I want them to learn respect for their elders," she said. "I want them to learn about black history."
Members of several chapters of the Buffalo Soldiers Living History and Heritage Association marched for similar reasons.
In a blue felt coat and cavalry hat, John L. Jones said the group hoped to reach out to young people and to help them understand the history of black Americans, including the military's first black soldiers.
"If you're not taught your heritage, you don't have a foundation to go forward," he said.
The election of Obama marks progress but doesn't diminish the need for young people to learn their history, he said.
"It's only a first step. It's not about having a black president. It's about having a president whose race you don't care about," said Jones, who would only describe his age as "over 60."
San Antonio, the nation's seventh-largest city, is roughly two-thirds Hispanic. Jones said the Hispanic community has always supported the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in large numbers.
Mark Melchor, a 22-year-old university student, wore a jacket from his Latino fraternity, a group that participates in the event every year.
King represents "civil rights for everybody," he said. "There's always going to be more work to be done. Minorities still have a disadvantage in the world. It's getting better but still."