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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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MLK parade pairs history with family

Jayme Frase, Houston Chronicle
Updated 2:32 pm, Monday, January 20, 2014

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  • Black Heritage Society, the 36th Annual "Original" Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. Video by James Nielsen. / Houston Chronicle

 

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Suits and phones gave way to jeans and strollers as thousands of families gathered in downtown Houston Monday morning for the first of two parades to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Before the bang of drums and pounding bass of sports car speakers overwhelmed conversation, some strangers became neighbors talking about the significance of the civil rights leader.

Barbara Sidney McDonald and Sabrina Weeks stood on Texas Avenue behind a waist-high wall of children and chatted like old friends, occasionally touching each other's shoulder to emphasize a point.

"We just met today," McDonald said with a laugh.

Both said they came to the 33rd Annual "Original" Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade to celebrate their pride for Houston, spend time with family and remind them that King's dream must not die while inequality still exists.

"It took years for this nation to recognize equality," Weeks said. "We're still going through change."

The same history will be celebrated at the 17th Annual MLK Grand Parade, which begins on Allen Parkway near Taft at 2 p.m.

For the kids at the morning parade, the thrill of chasing candy as it skidded across the pavement and leaping for T-shirts reinforced a sense of community as older children shared what they gathered with the youngest standing near them.

Destinee, 5, and Deriona, 3, Coleman were more enthralled by the cheerleaders and dancers.

"Balloons!" Deriona shouted after her mother, Davida, asked her about her favorite part of the day.

The sisters, who wore matching pink jackets with swirling stitches of hearts, held hands as they walked in front of their mother, pushing Drayla, 7 months, in a stroller. The girls' father, Sherare, said he and his wife had attended the parade as kids and returned once they started their own family.

"We come just to be around people celebrating and to honor Martin King," he said.