The name of Martin Luther King should not be removed from the bridge over the Salado Creek on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Years ago, when I was a city councilman, several hundred-people petitioned me to name the bridge after Martin Luther King. In total disregard of many District 2 residents, the name of R.A. Callies was put up by a council person that was never elected, but was appointed. We all respect Rev. Callies, his work and dedication, and always will, despite off-handed self-serving remarks by some who wanted to ignore the will of the people. We should put a monument of Rev. Callies on the bridge, but to remove Martin Luther King 's name from anything would be a terrible mistake. We never need to remove the name of Dr. King from ANYTHING! Just think what kind of fool thing that would be!
Rev. R. A. Callies did a great service in sustaining a march that has become the largest in the country. For the record, Rev. Callies was a good man, but was not a civil rights leader. He donated the land for the bridge to be built there which was a real help because of flooding. No one can take this history away from him. However, when Rev. Callies name was placed on the bridge, it was opposed by hundreds that wanted Dr. Martin Luther King’s name on the bridge. The naming of the bridge was done by a temporary city councilwoman, Delores Lott, who the community opposed for not supporting the name of Dr. King. Ms. Lott was to only serve as a caretaker representative, and not one appointed to start changing things in District 2. She never allowed the community to voice their position on the matter. Many felt she had no right to suggest any name, least of all to erect a name after the community expressed its will to name the bridge after Martin Luther King.
No doubt, we need to honor Rev. Callies on that bridge, but not by disrespecting his mentor, Martin Luther King. There is no doubt in my mind that a monument or plaque should be erected on the bridge in honor of R.A. Callies. The only right thing to do is to support efforts to build a statue or historical monument to honor Rev. Callies and not disrespect the name of Dr. King, the man that inspired Rev. Callies. Martin Luther King was a human rights warrior that fought against oppression and injustice. He was a man that was arrested dozens of times and beaten for his stance on human dignity. We are marching to remember his life, but more importantly his struggle against racism, segregation, and injustice.
There were many followers of Dr. King, but few have ever lived up to his commitment level. There were only a few pastors in San Antonio’s past that lived up to the level of Dr. King. Rev. Claude Black was one such pastor. The very first March for Dr. King, when he was still alive, was done by Rev. Claude Black. On March 13, 1960, Rev. Black addressed an anti-segregation rally and march. Rev. Black attended a march and demonstration in front of the Alamo protesting the violence in Selma, Ala., in March of 1965, years before King was killed, and SNCC carried out a March for MLK in 1968. There were others that left a local March legacy that need to be honored.
It is most fitting that we remember why we named the bridge after Dr. King in the first place. Without Dr. King’s actions, and the overall civil rights movement, black folk couldn’t enjoy life. Let us remember that many people have supported Dr. King, but few ever gave of their life like he did! No one should remove the name of King from that bridge or any other place. This does not mean that we should not honor Rev. Callies, but to remove the name of MLK from the bridge would be tantamount to disrespecting both!
Create a patio in the center of the bridge, telling the whole Callies story; this is the only way to honor both men. That bridge was named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, a human and civil rights warrior. The park was named in honor of Dr. King, the school was named in honor of King, and the street was named in honor of Dr. King. It is only fitting that all four symbols should honor the man that helped to free us from segregation, and it is never too late to remember that all of those that honored him were able to do whatever they did because of him. Keep MLK on the bridge and honor Callies on that same bridge.