Honoring MLK Jr.’s Legacy in Downtown Austin

Annual MLK Jr. Day Celebration, Great Experience For All


Photo by Donya Yazdi

Marchers hold a signs that spell out “We believe,” a sentiment that represented the march’s overall message. This event marked the 25th annual MLK Jr. Celebration held by the Austin Heritage Council.

Callie Copeland, Reporter

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” These words, spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, resonated with many Americans celebrating MLK day over the three-day weekend.

On Monday, I had the privilege of attending the 25th annual MLK Jr. Celebration, held by the Austin Heritage Council in downtown Austin. At the celebration, there was a march from the MLK statue on the University of Texas at Austin campus to the festival held at Houston-Tillerson University in East Austin.

Even though it was a cold January morning, thousands of people showed up to both the speeches before the march and the festival held afterward. Guest speakers included Greg Fenves, the current president of UT Austin, State Representative Sheryl Cole and my personal favorite, Brandon Owens, a young and energetic fourth grader from a local public school who won the MLK Oratory Contest.

Owens, the standout speaker at the march, gave an empowering speech about his plans for the future and his hopes that his generation will fight for what MLK Jr. stood for. In all honesty, this speech was by far the most powerful because it reminded me of the strength of this nation’s youth. There were children of all backgrounds and races at the march, including a small group (in both size and age) of marchers holding a sign that read, “Jewish Kids for Racial Justice.”

Displays such as these were commonplace along the five-mile march route, and it was incredible to see the sheer number of people who braved the windy morning to honor and continue MLK Jr.’s legacy.

No matter what race you are, what your political views are or what religion you practice, I highly encourage you to partake in the activities next year, especially the march. I continuously got chills thinking about Dr. King’s bravery, and I think the march alone could make anyone reflect on their own actions and make them strive to better serve their community.

This country has a lot of work to do, and marching with like-minded individuals of all races was a sigh of relief among the ever-present racial tensions in our nation. So, next year, if you can make it out to downtown Austin, I strongly advise attending the annual MLK Jr. celebration.