Thousands Attend Texas Rally for Life in Austin

On Saturday, Jan. 26, an estimated number of 10,000-15,000 pro-lifers from all over Texas marched to the Texas State Capitol to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision— a decision that made abortion legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

The Host Committee consisted of pro-life organizations from across the state, including A Woman’s Haven, the Agape Pregnancy Resource Center, the Annunciation Maternity Home from Georgetown, TX and Students for Life of America.

Parents, children, young adults and older people alike marched from 14th St. and San Jacinto to the south steps of the Capitol where Bishop Patrick Zurek of the Catholic Diocese of Amarillo started the Austin Rally for Life off with a prayer. There, speakers like Executive Director of the Texas Alliance for Life Dr. Joe Pojman, a representative from the office of Congressman Chip Roy, actress Robia Scott and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush addressed the crowds.

Commissioner Bush is the oldest child of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, nephew to the 43rd President George W. Bush and grandson to the 41st President George H.W. Bush.

“I am outraged about what happened in New York,” Bush said. “I am outraged that these officials celebrated and passed a legislation that would legalize partial-birth abortion. In this state, we know that every life matters… Since Roe v. Wade, 60 million lives have been taken by abortion, and that number continues to grow. Ladies and gentlemen, this must end… We must work every day to change these laws until every child is safe. This is the culture of life that Pope John Paul II fought for. It is the culture of life that we must always fight for every day and in every way. Ladies and gentleman, I am proud to stand side by side with you in this fight.”

Many college students also attended the rally, taking time away from their schoolwork to stand up for what they thought was right.

“The reason I’m here at the pro-life rally is because we know that abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women,” John Kutac, a student at the Texas A&M University, said. “It does hurt them and as pro-lifers, we know that women are strong enough to take on unplanned pregnancies and that they just need that support.”

Another student, Mariana Mason from A&M and Holland, Texas commented, “I’m here with the pro-life movement because life is valuable no matter size, level of development, environment or dependency. It’s all worth saving.”

Trinity University’s Tigers for Life was also in attendance, making it the second pro-life march the club has attended this month.

Tigers for Life at the Texas Rally for Life; photo courtesy of Maddie D’iorio.

The MLK March: A Conservative Perspective

This past Monday, I did something I never thought I would do: attend a liberal march. I normally try and avoid placing myself in situations in which I know everyone present will refuse to see me for any more than my political beliefs. The idea of the legitimacy of marches in general is dubious to me, because it seems like a way to avoid discussions in favor of being the loudest. However, in the name of curiosity and stepping out of my comfort zone, I woke up early on our day off and hopped on a bus to downtown San Antonio.

Before arriving at the march, I was both hopeful and concerned for the experience ahead. I was hopeful because all of my research on the march revealed that its primary purpose was simply to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I am a fan of King’s and his messages of love and equality which stood against extreme racial injustices in the 1960s. My concern came from the recent tendency of events such as these to turn towards intersectional messages. Meaning, it would fight for every social justice cause imaginable while condemning those who don’t conform to that narrative, losing the message of King’s legacy in a slew of anger.

To my surprise, I was mostly pleased by what I saw. From my arrival to my departure, I didn’t encounter or observe any significant instances of anger or hate. Most everyone present seemed united in their efforts to keep King’s name alive and known. Save for a handful of people who were carrying small pride flags, the general mentality of the marchers was quite focused on that goal. Speakers along the march pathway played music and recordings of King’s famous speeches. Attitudes were positive, with both marchers and people standing along the streets having a generally good time. I was able to let my guard down and join the marchers.

Photo courtesy of Samantha Farnsworth

Even though I enjoyed my experience, I am still critical of the march overall. While it did serve to commemorate King’s lasting legacy, the attempt to claim that his work has gone unfinished actually diminishes the weight of what he fought for in his time. In the 1960s and before, African-American people were seen as inferior according to the law, which kept the races segregated and divided America. Though racial inequality still exists today, the issues are nowhere near as violating as they were when Jim Crow laws were in place. The fact that no successor of King’s caliber has risen to prominence is proof enough of this.

Many of the values that King advocated for during the civil rights movement are actually quite aligned with modern conservative social values. King is famously known for his dream that people would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” King’s view on humanity is in agreement with conservative ideals of racial colorblindness and focusing on people’s ideas rather than playing identity politics. This is one of the reasons he is still so relevant today, and why society can still learn from his wise words. Additionally, King recognized that many of the problems within African-American communities are self-perpetuated and could not be blamed on anyone else, and that these issues therefore could not be solved by anyone else. The MLK march seemed to demand that issues be solved while making no practical efforts toward this goal.

Conservatives often criticize liberals for existing inside of an “echo chamber”, wherein the only intellectual input they receive comes from their own shared perspectives. While conservatives certainly recognize the importance of intellectual diversity and civil debate, we are often too reluctant to engage in what we perceive to be liberal-centered experiences. It is only by allowing ourselves to experience the world from the other side that we can legitimately justify our own beliefs while understanding and respecting the reverse.

Samantha Farnsworth and Emma McMahan at the MLK March; Photo courtesy of Samantha Farnsworth

Inaugural Alamo March for Life Draws Crowd

Trinity students participate in the Alamo March for Life. Image courtesy Tigers for Life.

On Sunday, Jan. 20, a few days before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the San Antonio Family Association (SAFA) hosted the 43rd San Antonio Rally for Life and the first Alamo March for Life at Alamo Plaza to protest Roe and the abortion industry. The march began at Alamo Plaza, progressed to Travis Park, and finished at the Plaza. First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott was the keynote speaker, joined by State Senator Peter Flores (R-San Antonio) and Nathan McDaniel, representing Congressman Chip Roy (R-CD21). Fr. Will Combs of St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church led the opening prayer.

In the past, SAFA has attempted to get permits from the city of San Antonio to host the event at  Alamo Plaza but has been unsuccessful. In his remarks at the rally, Patrick Von Dohlen, president of SAFA, attributed their success this year to the legal assistance of a SAFA supporter who is an attorney. Last year, the rally took place in a grassy area off of San Pedro Avenue near Park North Drive due to scheduling conflicts with the event’s original location, San Antonio Milam Park. The march and rally drew a crowd of a few hundred.

Image courtesy Tigers for Life.

In their remarks, Flores and McDaniel emphasized their offices’ commitment to the pro-life movement. Both Flores and Roy are currently in the beginning of their first term in office. Flores was elected in a special runoff election last year on September 18 after a first place finish in the first election on July 31. Flores is the first Republican to represent Senate District 19 since the end of Reconstruction. During his time at the podium, he focused on how his Catholic faith influences his pro-life convictions.

Sen. Flores speaks to rally attendees. Image courtesy Tigers for Life.

Abbott also spoke about how her faith shaped her views on abortion, relating how her favorite place to play growing up was her family’s parish Church. She talked about how her and Governor Greg Abbott’s experience adopting their daughter Audrey solidified their belief that a woman’s decision to place her child for adoption is a brave and selfless choice.

First Lady Cecilia Abbott shares her family’s adoption story. Image courtesy Tigers for Life. 

The event was co-sponsored by several organizations, including Shavano Family Practice, Allied Women’s Center, A Woman’s Haven, LifeChoices Medical Clinic, Abortion Hurts, God Heals, and the Justice Foundation.

MLK March Fills Downtown San Antonio

Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most influential African-Americans in modern US history.  Each January, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of San Antonio organize a march to commemorate his life and to honor his achievements.  This is one of the biggest MLK marches in the country. Approximately 300,000 people and communities participate in the San Antonio march every year.  

The nearly 3 mile march began at 10 am on Martin Luther King Dr. in downtown San Antonio.  Thousands of people brought signs, posters, banners, and other display items. Many “Black Lives Matter” signs were present.  One notable sign read, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Signs, posters, and chants are pretty typical for a march.  However, this march was somewhat unique because stereo systems on the side of the road were blasting speeches from King.  The “I Have a Dream” speech was echoed along the street and some people were playing music and singing songs. The main attitude of the participants in the march seemed upbeat and passionate.

This march included many community organizations and universities which participated.  Trinity University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee organized rides to and from the march for students who wished to participate in the march.  Many Trinity students find race issues to be important, and which is why the march matters so much to those students.

“Nowadays the march is to show solidarity within the community,” Josephine Van Houten, an international studies major at Trinity, said.

The issue of racial inequality also hits close to the heart for some students.  “As an African-American in America it does hit close to home for me,” said Chancie Calliham, a junior and political science major.  She further explains that “it’s great to see everyone come together as African-Americans and allies alike just to be here and show support for racial equality and justice in America.”

Other students explained how this march commemorates MLK’s lifetime and what he stood for.  Kievan Boudreaux-Bostic, a junior on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee from Trinity’s Diversity and Inclusion Office (DIO) believed that MLK stood for “Mainly nonviolent protests and loving thy enemy.”  Boudreaux-Bostic added that “he [MLK] was a really brave man because it’s hard to be nonviolent especially when people don’t respond with nonviolence.”

Being one of the biggest MLK marches in the country, this march’s high attendee turnout made an impact on lots of communities where the issue of racial injustice matters most to them.  The march was nonviolent, just as King advocated.