HOUSTON - Since Sylvester Turner assumed the office of mayor in January 2016, he's said how he'd like to have just one Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Houston, instead of two.
Turner said he wants the city to come together as a whole and honor King's legacy, preaching unity as the icon did during the civil rights movement.
On Thursday afternoon, Turner announced the Black Heritage Society would hold the official MLK parade in 2019.
For decades, Houston has celebrated King with separate parades.
One is called "The Original" MLK Jr. Day Parade and Holiday Celebration, which has been around for 40 years. It takes place in downtown Houston.
The other celebration is called the MLK Grand Parade, which has been marching for 24 years and takes place in midtown.
Turner said he chose the Black Heritage Society because it was the first in the country and is officially licensed by the King Center in Atlanta.
“The city will join with others on those other events during the Martin Luther King weekend. This is for the parade and we wanted to show the unity. We wanted to show the unity and we are encouraging people to unify behind that message on that Monday. We've already taken a huge step in the right direction,” Turner said.
Turner maintained the city is keeping the dialogue open with the organizers of the MLK Grande parade.
A statement from the organizations reads:
“The 25th Annual MLK Grande Parade Is Scheduled For January 21, 2019 Originating In Houston’s Midtown Beginning Promptly @ 10:00AM (CST). The Parade’s Theme “It Takes A Village” Will Articulate And Emphasize Our Strengths Through Diversity. We Have Constructed A Working Framework For The Unification Of The MLK Parades In Houston. Our Organization’s Legal Team Are Presently Looking Into Whether Government Has Any Role Other Than Support For Any Expressive Activity (First Amendment U.S. Constitution), And The Validity And Authenticity Of The Supposedly Licensing Agreement That Is In Possession Of The Other Parade. Once We Have Clarity On Those Two (2) Components We Will Move Fwd With The Unification Framework That Has Been A Work In Progress For More Than Three (3) Years. Finally, The Mayor Has Expressed An Extension Of Financial And Other Resources To The Black Heritage Society That Has Already Been In Place For More Than Six (6) Years. For A Complete Parade Line-up And/Or Additional Information Contact The MLK Grande Parade @ http://www.mlkgrandeparade.org Or Call 713-953-1633."
Those who attended the mayor’s announcement said they believe the people of Houston want to see unity, especially on the day our country honors Dr. King’s legacy.
“He wasn't a divider and that's how it should be. We should all be one,” Laura Mickey said.
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