A cherished and annual Houston tradition is pivoting for a virtual offering this year, but promises all the familiar players. This year’s 43rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade will take place virtually from 10 am to noon on January 18, organizers announced on January 11. The parade will be jointly produced by the Black Heritage Society and the City of Houston.
Instantly recognizable performers will provide entertainment, including the University of Houston marching band, the Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musicians, Booker T. Washington High School dance, band, cheer, and others. The virtual affair will also include footage from the very first parade in 1978, as well as other historical footage from over the years, per a press release.
This year’s theme is “Truth, Love and Justice,” which organizers say speaks to the history of the organization and the country's “current reckoning with race and systemic oppression.” Radio One is the official media sponsor; the virtual experience and parade of giving can be viewed on online at htvhouston.net and on Facebook on the Original MLK Day Parade page. Viewers can also watch on Comcast (Ch. 16), Phonoscope (Ch. 73 and 99), Suddenlink (Ch. 14), AT&T U-verse (Ch. 99).
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo will serve as this year’s Grand Marshals.
The beloved event honors King’s legacy and will include a call for a “day of service.” To that end, locals are invited to donate “basic life essentials” (blankets, water, baby diapers, baby wipes, etc.) at MacGregor Park located at 5225 Calhoun Rd. to support fellow Houstonians who’ve been significantly affected by the pandemic, per a release. Two local nonprofits, the World Youth Foundation and St. John’s Downtown, will distribute the donated items to individuals with the highest needs.
Those interested can sign up to drive-thru and donate items clicking here and call 713-236-1700 or visit the official website.
“We need to get through these times and come together as a community to support one another first,” said Sylvester Brown, executive director of the Black Heritage Society, in a statement. “Only then can we move to the work of building a more equitable world.”