Hundreds gathered around the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue on the UT campus this morning for a ceremony before the community march to Huston-Tillotson University. Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, some state lawmakers and Austin school officials were there.
State Representative Dawnna Dukes read a quote from Dr. King that she says still holds true today. “Dr King once said human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals," Dukes said before a large crowd.
As part of today’s events, the bridge over I-35 at MLK Boulevard was dedicated the J.J. Seabrook Bridge. The former president of Huston-Tillotson University played a key role in the push to rename 19th street after Martin Luther King, Jr.
Austin businessman Bob O’Dell led the fundraising effort to rename the bridge after Dr. Seabrook.
“This bridge is really in a strategic location because it’s right at the intersection between I-35 which has always represented the dividing line between East and West Austin and MLK that has always represented unity in Austin,” O'Dell said.
Seabrook died of a heart attack at a city council meeting in 1975 while rallying for the name change. Five days later, the city council unanimously renamed the entire length of 19th Street after Martin Luther King Junior.