MLK Marchers Will Fight for Preservation of Historic Downtown Building

San Antonio’s Martin Luther King Day march, which is recognized as the largest in the USA, will be looking toward a major civil rights battle of the coming year, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The march (organizers stress it is a ‘march’ and not a ‘parade’ will begin at the Freedom Bridge on MLK Blvd at Salado Creek at 10AM and will head straight west, wrapping up at Pittman Sullivan Park for speeches, prayers, and songs.

But several of the groups who will be marching today, will be holding signs calling for the famous Woolworth Building, which is located at Houston and Alamo Streets, not to be demolished, as is possible under the $300 million proposal to ‘re-imagine’ Alamo Plaza.

In March of 1960, decades of officially enforced segregation came to an end in San Antonio in one day, when the lunch counter at the Woolworth store in the building started service Black and White customers together.

While discrimination and outright refusal of service to African Americans continued for another decade, including at the lunch counter at Joske’s downtown, the peaceful desegregation of the Woolworth lunch counter, which was organized by the NAACP and the San Antonio Council of Churches, including the late Rev. Buckner Fanning, spared San Antonio the violence and terror and resentment that accompanied desegregation across much of the Old Confederacy, from bombings in Mississippi and Birmingham Alabama to the bloody ‘Freedom Riders’ journey to the famous march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama.

The Woolworth Block, as its called, is one of three buildings on the west side of Alamo Street which are tagged for potential demolition under the plan to expand Alamo Plaza.  A museum may be located inside the buildings, if they are deemed to be structurally safe enough to hold a museum, but if not, the buildings could be destroyed.

According to a post on social media, several groups are participating in the march to protect the Woolworth Building.

“The Coalition for the Woolworth Building is a grassroots advocacy group. We support the preservation of the Woolworth Building and want to build on its presence in Alamo Plaza to share an integrated history that includes African-Americans. Members include: San Antonio African American Community Archive & Museum; Esperanza Peace & Justice Center; Westside Preservation Alliance; concerned historians, civic leaders, and community members; and the San Antonio Conservation Society,” the post says.

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