Martin Luther King Jr. Parade draws crowd
Thousands of spectators with lawn chairs, cameras, balloons, and cotton candy lined the street for the 19th annual Martin Luther King Parade at 10 a.m. Monday on San Jacinto St. The parade consisted of 15 floats and 30 bands and organizations.
The parade brought onlookers and participants from different areas of the south, such as The Pink Dots, a step team from New Orleans, and from all ages like the elementary school cheerleaders of J R Harris Elementary School in southeast Houston.
Groups like IMAN Academy engaged the crowd with their signs, while groups like the Worthing High School marching band and Impande Ye African Production Company brought the audience to their feet with its pulsating music and food franchises like Jack in the Box and Pepsi threw freebies into the crowd.
Spectators like Marty West thought the parade was excellent.
“The atmosphere is fun and loving,” West said. “Here is a sense of freedom. Seeing all these young people participating is remarkable.”
West said he had not seen a parade in 10 years, and seeing the youth sent him on a trip through time to his high school days. Though with that thought, he remembers the prejudice he faced.
“I experienced some of the prejudice in those days. So for me to be here today to tell you this is really a miracle,” West said.
West said he is glad to see the youth of all races partaking in the parade.
Others agreed with West, such as Paul Hightower. Hightower said he had not been to a parade in years but decided to take his nephew.
“This is a good thing: what they are doing, showing their heritage,” Hightower said. “And it’s something for the kids to do. Something they can look back on and say they were part of.”
Like West, Hightower witnessed prejudice in his youth.
“I know about prejudice. I know about hard times. I’ve seen all that,” Hightower said.
Hightower recognizes that since Martin Luther King Jr.’s time, African-Americans have more privileges but, for him, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is just another day.
“I see struggle in my life: still poor, still being treated badly. But for the youngsters, (MLK Day) might mean something for them.”
For Leticia Johnson, celebrating MLK Day at the MLK Parade is a tradition. The parade is even more special in her eyes this year.
“I came to support our people,” Johnson said. “Especially now since it’s inauguration time.”
Others like elementary school student, Emil Rivera, just likes parades.
“I come every year to see performances,” she said. “All of (the bands) were my favorite because they had costumes and great music. I will come next year to see the bands and dance.”