Austin observes MLK Day with Rally & March

Monday’s event took place under a cloud of uncertainty. Much of that feeling is because of the toxic political rhetoric of the past year and the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, which will take place on Friday.

The day began on the U.T. campus around the statue for Dr. Martin Luther king Jr.

"The 2017 theme for the Austin Heritage Council is, love plus unity equals power. We need to embrace each other,” said Yvette Crawford.

From U.T., with a police and trooper escort, a large group marched toward the Texas capitol. They filled north Congress moving at a steady pace. The beat from each step symbolic of a journey that started decades ago.

"Coming here is just important to celebrate him and celebrate where we are in life right now, just the continuation of that, continue to move forward, with our people and just being a part of this is just important to help that,” said Lauren Taylor a young marcher from Houston.

Once at the south steps of the capitol a high energy celebration got underway. With music - and from a podium - the group was reminded - in their hearts MLK Day should be every day. That message was echoed by Nelson Linder. He leads the Austin chapter of the NAACP which was honored this year by the rally organizers.

"This is your community, claim it. City Council, the Commissioner’s Court, the state, all of us are equally important, if we do our work, all our problems are solvable,” said Linder.

A new feature to the rally is the African American memorial on the capitol grounds. It was dedicated shortly after the November election. Many of those who came to see and touch the memorial were mindful of the recent insults posted on social media between president elect Donald Trump and Georgia congressman John Lewis, Civil Rights icon.

"I hear from his point of view, with John Lewis saying the he is not a legitimate President, and obviously he disagrees with that, but you've got to understand where he is coming from and where he is been, and to say he is all talk is a total untruth,” said Isaac Williams.

With racial and social tension expected to continue well into the New Year, refusing to give up believing in King's dream was why parents like Kevin Cokley brought their children.

"It absolutely goes to him now, it is his youth and his optimism that will help make this world a better place and Dr. King's message is enduring and I hope that its one that he internalizes,” said Cokely.

A challenge to follow in the footsteps of those who marched in the past. And while at times, it may seem like the uphill journey the marchers took from the capitol to Huston- Tillotson University, It’s a trip that promises to make the bonds of unity stronger. Even during a time that may appear to some that steps have gone backwards.

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