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MLK Celebrated in Dallas

By Jim Lane

North Texans held at least a dozen events honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on and around January 15. There were two grand parades in Dallas. Going back to 1990, the city's official parade has competed with a more community oriented parade organized by the weekly newspaper, Elite News. This year, the community march surpassed the city parade in size. Far more high school bands, including the celebrated band from Lincoln High School, participated with Elite News. The newspaper now claims that their march is the second largest in Texas, behind the massive San Antonio march which, in its turn, claims to be the second largest in the nation, after Atlanta.

The Dallas city's parade, which usually draws complaints for its lack of overt political message, has taken on more of the character of a real civil rights march. There were at least two peace contingents. Unions were represented in groups from UAW Local 848 and Jobs with Justice. A large group of youth marched with the banner, "We Shall Overcome Aids, Too," and another group demanded, "Stop the Murder of Mumia Abu-Jamal!" They made their point about the war in Iraq with this quote, "And I say to you today, that if our nation can spend thirty-five billion dollars a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam, and twenty billion dollars to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God's children on their own two feet right here on Earth." --Martin Luther King Jr. "Where Do We Go From Here?" August 16, 1967.

It may be too early to draw any conclusions, but it looks as though Martin Luther King Jr's birthday in North Texas is beginning to measure up to the man and his message. In previous years, the city parade in Dallas dominated all of the various MLK activities. Most years, there has been almost no peace representation and very few unionists. Dallas activists have long envied the San Antonio parade, where community organizers develop a massive march that goes through important residential communities with signs and banners truly reflecting the kinds of demands that Martin Luther King Jr might make today.