Remembering the dream: How Austin celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.

Published on: January 17, 2017

Filled Under: Beyond Our Walls, Local News, News, Showcase

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The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration has been an Austin Tradition since 1983, when it was started by the Texas Union African American Cultural Committee. Since then it has grown to encompass the entire city, including sponsorship from City of Austin, the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas, and Houston-Tillotson University. The event not only stands as a cultural celebration, but a celebration of the ideas Martin Luther King Jr. expressed that have changed the lives of many.

  • The event begins on UT campus, where speakers and musicians gather near this statue of Martin Luther King Jr. in the East Mall, completed in 1999. The statue is the second MLK statue to be built on a college campus.
  • Danielle Harris (11), a 5th grader at Blackshear Elementary and winner of the 12th annual Martin Luther King Children’s Oratory competition, performing on UT campus. Harris’s passionate speech revealed her thoughts about the recent election, and included quotes from Dr. King, Michelle Obama, and the musical “Hamilton.”
  • Many marchers wave handmade signs with the words and image of Dr. King. School buses pulled up to the event carrying dozens of students, all with handpainted signs for the walk to the capitol.
  • Obama paraphernalia was prevalent across all demographics attending the event. Several speakers lamented the end of the president’s term, as well as the importance of his accomplishments as a symbol for the African American community.
  • Christine Fannuel, a graduate of Houston-Tillotson, sings on the steps of the capitol. Her renditions of gospel songs gave the crowd of thousands a newfound energy.
  • A church member’s hands wave to the rhythm of Christine Fannuel’s emotional performance.
  • Families watches the speeches and performances on the capitol steps from afar.
  • While some marchers’ signs boast the words of Dr. King, many express sentiments towards the recent election and other political issues.
  • Dogs join families in celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Wilhelmina Delco speaks at the capitol during the celebration. Mrs. Delco was the first African American elected to public office in Austin and continues to be an active force in education.
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