History will be made this Memorial Day weekend when Houston will officially welcome the "Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." with ceremonial events dedicated to the unveiling of the MLK Statue at Memorial Plaza in MacGregor Park. The realization of the weekend’s historic events has been a 34 year journey since its visionary inception. The journey began in 1980 when community activists called upon city council to erect a statue of Dr. King in his honor in the heart of the African American community at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive & Old Spanish Trail. In 1983, a tree was planted to mark the proposed site and in memory of Dr. King. The Black Heritage Society was instrumental in keeping the "Dream Alive" and enabling the tribute and statue to become a reality for the Houston community.
The ceremonial unveiling is sponsored by the Black Heritage Society led by Founder & Executive Director Ovide Duncantell and hosted by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. While enhancing community involvement, the festivities will be held in conjunction with the S.H.AP.E. Community Center’s Annual Pan African Cultural Festival which celebrates the uniqueness of a vibrant African American culture while remembering great historical heroes and shaping the minds of the future.
Civil rights leaders who worked with Dr. King during the "Movement" and other special guests will be in attendance for Saturday’s events including Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, former President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); Martin Luther King, III, Rev. Derek King, Congressman John Lewis (GA), John Hope Bryant of Operation Hope and others.
The weekend’s memorial events will include: a Red Carpet Memorial Reception (Invitation Only) to be held in the Pavilion at MacGregor Park from 6:00-8:00 pm on Friday, May 23r; on Saturday, May 24th, a "March to Victory Parade" will begin at 9:00 am at Palm Center and proceed to Memorial Plaza; the official unveiling of the MLK Statue at 11:00 am; the Pan African/MLK Memorial Festival will be held from 1:00-10:00 pm.
The historic ceremonial events have evolved as a result of the collaborative efforts of the Black Heritage Society, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, City of Houston, METRO, S.H.A.P.E. Community Center, Je La Beaux, Inc. The Emerald Group, Advantage Communications and Radio One.
The Saturday events are free to the public and the community is invited to bring their families and attend the historic MLK memorial events which promises to be an educational, history making and momentous occasion.