By Kate Barton.
The city of San Marcos decided to do something a little different to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Not only was a new memorial dedicated to former President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 20, but local civil rights leaders were honored at an award ceremony a day earlier.
The LBJ-MLK Crossroads Memorial sits at the corner of LBJ Dr. and MLK Dr. This is the only spot in the nation where the streets of LBJ and MLK intersect. The memorial commemorates the relationship the two leaders shared during the ’60s Civil Rights Movement era.
Johnson and King each worked independently for the civil rights of Americans. Johnson worked with congress and King worked with the conscience of the nation. However, they coordinated their efforts to sign into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
At top, San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero (far right) and council member Wayne Becak (left of Guerrero) wait for the MLK Day march from the courthouse square to begin. (Photo by Kate Barton)
Hays County citizens were also commemorated for their leadership in civil rights. Among the 73 Civil Rights Trailblazers honored on Jan. 19 were Bob Barton, Jr., (deceased) former publisher of the Hays Free Press, Rose Brooks, voting rights trailblazer, and Ophelia Vasquez-Philo, the first Hispanic woman on the San Marcos CISD Board of Trustees.
Other citizens who led the way for civil rights included the five African American women who integrated then Southwest Texas State University in 1963, and African American basketball player Lucious Jackson, who was prohibited from playing basketball at San Marcos High School. He later became the number one draft pick in the NBA.
MLK day celebrations commenced on Jan. 20 at the Hays County Courthouse. After the ceremonies a crowd of a few hundred marched from the courthouse to the crossroads of LBJ and MLK drives. At the intersection, artist Aaron Hussey and Luci Johnson, daughter of the former president, introduced the memorial and cut the ribbon.
Engraved in the memorial are the words, “To stand for another’s freedom is to free yourself” and is translated into eight languages other than English. On top of the memorial, Johnson and King are shown negotiating in the Oval Office.
Hussey was chosen to create the memorial from a national competition.
“The arches that support the structure are a reminder of the architecture in the oval arches, where the doorways have office, and then the two benches facing each other is from the image of the conversation where LBJ and MLK were sitting across from each other so it allows for people to participate in the conversation,” said Hussey.