Houstonians come together on MLK Day to honor Dr. King with day of service

A day off work is often spent trying to relax but on this holiday Houstonians are honoring the

man it’s named for as they take part in several local MLK Day Events.

One of Houston’s most recognizable Martin Luther King Day gatherings is the big parade, which for the first time in more than 40 years is different this year. "We’ve had our own version of a parade today," smiles Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. 

This year it’s donors and volunteers gathering, instead of fancy floats and bands, as Houston’s Black Heritage Society hosts its 43rd MLK Day Celebration, which is normally a parade. Due to the pandemic, this time it's a Parade of Giving, with virtual and drive-thru donations to support Houstonians in need.

"That’s what Dr. King was all about. It’s about loving one another, recognizing we’re all brothers and sisters and we’re all important in God’s sight," Mayor Turner adds.

Inspired by civil rights great MLK, Houston students give heartfelt speeches against hate

Houston ISD 4th and 5th graders deliver powerful speeches in the MLK Oratory Competition.

In fact, the mayor says it’s important to remember Dr. King didn’t have it easy but he never gave up, even when he was met with brutality, at a time when not only some people were against him but so were many laws.

"A lot of violence Is taking place all over the country. It's even more fitting now to celebrate the life and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his message was making change in a peaceful, non-violent way," says Mayor Turner. 

Even a pandemic isn’t enough to stop this Day of Service.

"To be able to be out and be around people for something so meaningful and impactful is really important to me," explains Christian Menefee who realizes his new title is no doubt possible thanks to Dr. King’s relentless fight for civil rights. "I’m the youngest at 32 and the first African American Harris County Attorney," Menefee explains.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON HOLIDAYS

Volunteers are doing good deeds in the name of Dr. King all across our city, including in historic Freedmen’s Town.

"Martin Luther King died for a reason and while he was here his goal was to bring everyone together. So I definitely wanted to be part of coming together with others," says Houston mom Brianna Arceneaux who took her kids to take part in the clean-up as well. "This time in our country we need this. We need to find peace so we can be strong enough to go forward," adds Doris Ellis Robinson Founder of Freedman’s Town Preservation Coalition.

RELATED: How to commemorate MLK Day while staying at home

"We had so many amazing groups come out, Shell, the Houston Astros Foundation is out here today. A number of families are here today. They’re collecting food and inside we have a number of groups building backpacks and sorting products that have been donated to us," explains Amy Ragan with the Houston Food Bank.     

Mayor Turner says "the dream doesn’t stop with Dr. King". He's encouraging others to be "the next Dr. King" dreaming and working for unity, peace, justice, and equality for all.