Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Houston’s top elected official, who is also a native of the local neighborhood, will be leading the city’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Day this year.

On Dec. 29, the city announced that Houston’s Black Heritage Society has tabbed Mayor Sylvester Turner as the Grand Marshal for the 45th annual Original MLK Jr. Day Parade on Jan. 16. The parade will take place in downtown Houston beginning at 10 a.m., and will begin at the intersection of Lamar Street and Smith Street according to the city.

The Original MLK Day Parade was the very first MLK Day Parade held in the nation after being sanctioned by the King family in 1978 in Houston, according to a news release from the city. MLK Day is the annual celebration that “honors the legacy of Dr. King, focuses on civil rights issues, highlights the use of nonviolence to promote change, and calls people into public service.”

"I am honored and humbled to serve as the grand marshal and encourage all Houstonians to participate by lining up along the parade route or signing up to sponsor a float," said Turner, a native of Acres Homes. "Houston is part of Dr. King's legacy, and he came here during the civil rights movement, and his leadership on behalf of all people is something we should commemorate."

The parade will showcase marching bands, decorated floats, dance teams, military and ROTC groups, first responders, city and county officials, and more. It will also feature a special memorial tribute to the late John Bland, a Houston civil rights activist who passed away in 2020.

Turner’s co-grand marshals for the parade will be Rev. Dr. Derek King – Martin Luther King Jr.’s nephew –and Dr. Camille Cash, M.D., a prominent Houston plastic surgeon. 

"The 2023 Original MLK Jr. Day Parade will be the last one during Mayor Turner's administration. The Black Heritage Society believes he is a wonderful representation of Dr. King's dream," Black Heritage Society President Teresa Brewer said in a news release. "Over the past seven years, Mayor Turner has led our city through natural disasters, pension reform, and creating a more resilient Houston for the future. He will leave a legacy of unity – bringing together diverse people in our city and putting Houston on the global stage."

For more information on the Black Heritage Society or the 45th annual Original MLK Jr. Day Parade, visit the organization’s website at blackheritagesociety.net.

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