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San Antonio civil rights leader ponders on future of fight for racial equality in a post-Trump presidency

Mario Marcel Salas has faith in the younger generation to become more civically engaged and learn about the social issues faced by people of color.

SAN ANTONIO — The battle for racial equality continues beyond the Trump presidency, which one prominent San Antonio civil rights leader stressed is paramount in advancing the social movement.

“I never thought I would hear a presidential candidate actually say we have a problem with systemic racism. Joe Biden said that last night,” said Mario Marcel Salas, who has been a civil rights leader in the Alamo City for over 30 years.

Salas looks to the roots of San Antonio's role in the civil rights movement and the days of helping establish Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a Texas state holiday.

The MLK Commission was assembled in 1986 under the leadership of Mayor Henry Cisneros. The city-community partnership led to San Antonio’s first official MLK march in 1987.

San Antonio is said to home to the largest MLK march in the U.S. with over 300,000 having attended in 2020.

RELATED: Annual march to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will go virtual due to coronavirus concerns

Salas believes it is vital for the younger generation to become educated and become more politically involved surrounding social issues that affect people of color.

“The educational experience that young people are getting no matter what ethnic group they’re in, it’s an educational experience that teaches engagement, it teaches diversity, it teaches inclusion,” he said.

Salas has taught at the University of Texas San Antonio on such subjects while leading the San Antonio Coalition for Police Accountability among other duties.

He hopes the New Year paves the way for uniting the American people emboldened by new leadership at the White House. 

 “As we progress in 2021 and beyond, you will see I believe, more of an effort for people to understand others culture and be more accepting of people who have disagreements with one another.”

The 2021 MLK March was canceled due to the coronavirus but several virtual events are slated to take place instead. 

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