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New Braunfels MLK Association Sponsors Unity in the Community Prayer Vigil on Thursday

Some 2,500 people marched in downtown New Braunfels on Jan. 21 for the 5th Annual MLK March & Ceremony, hosted by New Braunfels MLK Association. Image courtesy of the association.

The New Braunfels MLK Association is sponsoring a Unity in the Community Prayer Vigil at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 11 on the Main Plaza in downtown New Braunfels.

Organizers say New Braunfels residents as well as people in surrounding communities are invited to attend “this peaceful, prayerful demonstration of faith, hope, and commitment as, together, we forge a new path forward in our nation and in the world.”

Attendees are asked to wear masks and follow guidelines for social distancing.

Henry Ford, founder and vice president of New Braunfels MLK Association, said there is more power in prayer than protests, even though protests are necessary.

“I wanted to bring the community together in a peaceful way,” he said. “Communication is the key. We need communication, to be willing to talk, and listen, and sit. A lot of time we hear what people are saying but we don’t listen.”

Ford said the New Braunfels Police Department has fully supported his group since its inception six years ago.

Expected at Thursday’s prayer vigil are New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman, New Braunfels Police Chief Tom Wilbert, New Braunfels City Manager Robert Camareno, Comal County Judge Sherman Krause and Comal County Sheriff Mark Reynolds.

Ford founded the New Braunfels MLK Association six years ago when he lived in Northwest Crossing Subdivision and learned that Martin Luther King Jr. Day was listed simply as a student holiday at a nearby school.

“That kind of upset me that they wouldn’t give him recognition for that day,” he said.

When Ford and wife Gloria returned from an out-of-town trip shortly afterwards, he saw a newspaper article about Jon Michael Franklin, then a freshman at Comal ISD’s Canyon High School, who was challenging trustees for not observing Martin Luther King Day.

Franklin was counted absent for attending a MLK march in San Antonio.

Ford said the whole situation bothered him.

“‘If you don’t like it, why don’t you do something about it,'” he recalls Gloria Ford asking. “So I said, ‘ok, I will.'”

He formed the MLK Association with the help of then-New Braunfels City Councilman George Green.

Franklin went on to be honored by then-President Barack Obama, who wrote to him: “Each of us has a role to play in creating a better world for future generations. I trust you take pride in your contributions, and I hope your service moves others to serve as well.”

The Fords, working with Seguin and San Antonio’s MLK organizations, organized Thursday’s event.

Jon Michael Franklin’s parents, Chevone Franklin and his father Bishop Michael Franklin of Christ Ministries International Church in San Antonio, will attend the prayer vigil.

Thursday’s prayer vigil is unrelated to the June 2 Black Lives Matter protest in downtown New Braunfels.

Board of Directors

Chevone Franklin currently serves on New Braunfels MLK Association’s board along with Treasurer Cardelia Grant, whose mother was one of the first African-American school teachers in New Braunfels. Bishop Franklin is board president.

Former New Braunfels City Council member and mayor pro-tem Kathleen Krueger is the group’s assistant secretary. Susan Tate is MLK’s assistant treasurer. Other board members include Gloria Ford and Byron McIntire.

New Braunfels MLK Association’s mission is to march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King and to promote activities in support of his teaching and legacy.

The New Braunfels MLK Association officially runs the city’s annual MLK parade, which is always celebrated on the third Monday in January. New Braunfels MLK Association meets monthly at Live Oak baptist Church in New Braunfels.

The City of San Antonio is responsible for its own annual MLK March.

About Dr. Maritn Luther King Jr.

King was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most-visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968, according to Wikipedia. At the age of 35, he became the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

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