North Texas is ready to tip its hat to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — and in a big way.
Residents will celebrate the leader’s birthday over three days, culminating with the Toyota North Texas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade & Celebration on Jan. 15.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will serve as the honorary grand marshal of the parade that’s geared for the first time to unite six counties — Tarrant, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Kaufman and Collin — in one regional celebration.
“The Martin Luther King Jr. parade and celebration is a time to reflect on the triumphs, tragedies, and lessons of the past, and I am humbled and proud to participate in an event to commemorate the legacy of a brave man and his mark on history,” Abbott said.
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The parade kicks off at 10 a.m.
Abbott will ride on a float with Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson and Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson.
Former Judge L. Clifford Davis, a civil rights attorney, will serve as parade grand marshal.
Among those attending or performing in the parade: gospel artist Fred Hammond, actor Laz Alonso (“Detroit,” “Fast & Furious”), Miss Black USA Daphne Lee, Miss D. And the Dancing Dolls and the Southern University “Human Jukebox” Marching Band.
The 0.8 mile parade — which will include bands, floats, elected officials, car clubs and more — will start at AT&T Way and Cowboys Way, head north and turn east on Randol Mill Road. It will turn north on Ballpark Way and end on Road to Six Flags, according to parade organizers.
Other events involved in this celebration include a MLK Advancing the Dream Awards Banquet at 6 p.m. Jan. 12 with Martin Luther King III as the keynote speaker. Tickets for this event, at the UT Arlington University Center’s Bluebonnet Ballroom, cost $55 and can be bought at www.utatickets.com.
A special battle of the bands, hosted by the Southern University Marching Band, will be at 3 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Ellis Davis Fieldhouse, 9191 South Polk Street in Dallas. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And the MLK Scholarship Breakfast, sponsored by the Nu Pi Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., and featuring Alonso as the keynote speaker, will precede the parade, at 8 a.m. Jan. 15. Tickets for the event at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel cost $40 and are available online at www.eventbrite.com/e/mlk-scholarship-breakfast-tickets-39628688474?aff=es2.
Sponsors for the overall parade include Toyota, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Texas Live!, American Airlines, Hilton Arlington, Omni Dallas and NBC 5.
More information on the events can be found online at www.northtexasmlk.com.
This event “will be a memorable 88th birthday celebration for a king,” according to a release about the parade. “The community is encouraged to participate and attend all events.”