Public figures and a long-time resident shared Monday morning the importance of honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the struggles of growing up during segregation. Del Rioans honored King with a march, speeches and a video presentation.
Del Rio is one of the few remaining cities in the nation to hold a march in King’s honor, according to Laughlin Air Force Base 47th Wing Commander Col. Lee Gentile.
As Del Rioans celebrated diversity, dreams and the future, city of Del Rio Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano brought up the ongoing battles against inequality and injustice.
“It’s important to continue to pass on to generations the information that our predecessors and our ancestors have taught us, it lives through our blood. Without sharing these important stories of history, and ancestry, and culturally, our children are going to lose everything that we fought for,” Lozano said.
Del Rio’s past helps younger generations continue to push for a brighter future, according to Lozano.
“Without these dreams of ours, we have nothing to pass on,” Lozano said.
Long-time Del Rioan James Bass recounted growing up in Del Rio; the segregation within schools, the movie theater, restaurants and housing areas. Yet, those issues did not deter Del Rioans from getting along with each other, according to Bass.
“The only problem we had was with the school. Everybody was friends during the weekends, but Monday we split; they go to their schools and we went to ours,” Bass said.
After Bass enlisted in the military, his journey throughout the world opened his eyes to an issue far bigger than the limits of Del Rio. Yet, Bass returned to Del Rio and emphasized the importance of pursuing a higher education.
“I can’t imagine if guys like me could’ve gotten the education that guys are getting now. There’s no limit to what they could’ve done,” Bass said.
“We honor a man who gave his all for equality, so that all can be treated equally … our generation is our kids and those are the ones we ought to be bringing up with the culture of Del Rio,” Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez said.
The community is blessed, and Del Rioans need to treat each other with love and respect, according to Martinez.
“There’s about 100 of us here this morning. If each one of us went out and showed our love to somebody else, that just becomes infectious over time,” Martinez said.
Val Verde County Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Antonio “Tony” Faz said he expected citizens to ask him about the daily workings of his job, yet over the course of the last several months he received questions regarding other issues.
“I’ve had people ask me, and it’s very difficult for me to answer, ‘Judge, how is it that we’re growing apart as a nation,’ I’ve been asked, ‘how is it that we’ve come to undermine our Constitution’ and ‘Judge, how is it that we can take one step forward, but two steps backward,’” Faz said.
Faz said while social media is useful, citizens need to fact check and not fully trust everything posted.
“I ask you, my brothers and sisters, that today more than ever, we come together in unity and trust; forget the bitterness and hatred. We have to lay the foundation for our future generations to continue the battle, that one day we may truly come together,” Faz said.
The march drew more than 100 Del Rioans of all ages to participate Monday morning. Participants gathered at the Star Park before marching down South Main Street towards the Val Verde County Courthouse.
Everyone in attendance marched along, singing songs of peace and holding signs commemorating King’s actions. After the speeches finished, everyone gathered at the Paul Poag Theatre for a viewing of King’s famous speech “I Have a Dream” and a chance to view the upcoming Whitehead Memorial Museum exhibit “African-American Del Rio”.