Organizers of the controversial Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade that was to feature Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as an honorary grand marshal are moving forward with plans to formally cancel the event.
This news came late Friday, one day after Arlington city officials declined to issue a needed permit to the Toyota North Texas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade & Celebration — which drew critics opposed to Abbott’s participation — saying organizers didn’t pay the full amount required for logistics including security.
“We placed the appeal earlier (Friday), but we are not optimistic,” said Winsor Barbee, a spokeswoman for the parade. “We are moving forward with the cancellation of the parade.”
City officials said they received the appeal shortly after 2 p.m. Friday and were reviewing the issue. By Friday night, the city denied the appeal as parade organizers “still had not fulfilled the necessary steps to obtain a special events permit,” said Jay Warren, a city spokesman.
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Critics announced days ago that they planned to boycott the parade, saying the governor shouldn’t be in the parade because of his work on issues ranging from sanctuary cities to requiring Texans to have photo IDs to vote, which traditionally disenfranchises some minority voters.
Former Judge L. Clifford Davis, a civil rights attorney, was to be the grand marshal in the Arlington parade, billed as “the largest Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in the world” and geared to serve as a six-county celebration, of King’s work, uniting Tarrant, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Kaufman and Collin counties.
Abbott’s office didn’t respond to requests for a comment Friday.
But the governor earlier in the week tweeted: “I am a Christian, I’ve committed my life to ensuring justice, I come in peace. The day will be a worthy celebration of all the good Martin Luther King Jr. did for America. I serve as Governor for all Texans.”
Late Thursday, the city of Arlington announced that parade organizers fell short of meeting their obligations for the parade.
The Arlington parade, which had been scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, was to include bands, floats, elected officials, car clubs and more.
Information about related MLK Day events in Arlington that will continue can be found online at northtexasmlk.com.
Arlington officials stressed that they will still celebrate King’s life and work through the annual Arlington Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Advancing the Dream” Celebration.
That celebration stretches over four days, including a scholarship banquet, cultural events and a community Day of Service. Activities planned for the weekend can be found at ArlingtonMLK.com.
Fort Worth parade
As controversy continues swirling around the Arlington MLK parade, North Texans wanting to honor the civil rights leader will still have the chance to do so in Fort Worth Monday.
A separate, unrelated Fort Worth parade is still scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. downtown.
“It’s important to hold the parade on Martin Luther King Day because that’s the day the country celebrates the efforts and work of Martin Luther King,” said Roderick Miles, coordinator of the parade for the Greater Fort Worth Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Committee.
“It is a reminder ... of the power and the valuable asset and resource (King) was,” he said. “It motivates us and inspires us to continue to work for racial equality for all citizens.”
The Fort Worth parade begins at Ninth and Commerce streets, heads west on Ninth Street, then north on Houston Street, and east on First Street, before heading south on Main Street.
When the parade ends, there will be a rally at Sundance Square Plaza.
“Dr. King was an architect of today’s push for diversity,” said Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples, who will participate in the Fort Worth parade. “He was prophetic.
“He talked about bringing people together, of all works of life, ... and building an America where his poor little children would be equal to everyone,” she said. “We should be working hard to honor Dr. King and make this a wonderful day.”
More information about the Fort Worth parade can be found online at fortworthtexas.gov/news/2018/01/parades.