Critics blast decision to include Abbott in Arlington MLK parade

The late Martin Luther King Jr. will be honored in Arlington later this month as part of a regional celebration.
The late Martin Luther King Jr. will be honored in Arlington later this month as part of a regional celebration. AP

The announcement that Gov. Greg Abbott will serve as the honorary grand marshal of a Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Arlington on Jan. 15 quickly sparked criticism from some locals.

A number of Democrats took to Facebook to register their protest to Abbott’s inclusion in the upcoming Toyota North Texas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade & Celebration.

“Do we boycott or do we show up to protest? The choice of Greg Abbott mocks the heritage of Martin Luther King Jr and of the struggle for human rights,” posted Nancy Bean, a Democrat running for Texas House District 93.

Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples also weighed in. “What was the thought behind inviting these people who don’t care about us!” she posted on Facebook. “The organizers of the parade should uninvite Greg Abbott! The parade taints the whole weekend.”

The Arlington National Association for the Advancement of Colored People put out a statement noting that they do not support the parade.

“It is the firm opinion of the Arlington NAACP that the selection of Governor Greg Abbott as Honorary Grand Marshal of any event honoring Dr. King stings with hypocrisy. As we review his career and public service, it is fair to say that Greg Abbott has done more to damage and undermine African-American and Latino civil and voter rights, educational opportunities and economic empowerment than any other modern-day Texas Governor,” the statement read.

Arlington officials plan to hold a town hall meeting at the Greater Missionary Baptist Church in Arlington at 7 p.m. Thursday to “discuss the question of what shall be done in response to Gov. Abbott riding in the Tarrant County MLK parade as Honorary Grand Marshal.” The church is at 126 E. Park Row Drive in Arlington.

Winsor Barbee, the media contact for the Toyota parade, said she’s aware of the criticism about the governor’s participation.

“We have heard,” she said. “It’s from a lot of the minority community activists.”

But she empahsized that this parade, which represents six counties — Tarrant, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Kaufman and Collin — is a regional celebration and geared to be inclusive. It kicks off at 10 a.m. and will start at AT&T Way and Cowboys Way.

But it isn’t meant to overshadow other MLK Jr. celebrations.

Barbee noted that other local parades will continue, such as the Fort Worth parade scheduled downtown at 11 a.m. Jan. 15.

“We wouldn’t expect otherwise,” Barbee said. “We want as much exposure in North Texas for MLK Jr. as we can get. This is to engage, give something for all the people.”

For more information about the Toyota MLK Day parade in Arlington, go online to www.northtexasmlk.com.

Early endorsements

Endorsements recently began flaring up on the GOP side of the race to replace Ennis Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Barton in the 6th Congressional District.

Soon after the new year rang in, Republican Jake Ellzey announced an endorsement from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Tarrant County Tax Assessor Collector Ron Wright, a former Barton chief of staff, fired back with a list of nearly 20 endorsements from Tarrant County leaders.

There is a crowded field of candidates hoping to represent CD 6 and replace Barton, who announced — after coming under fire for a nude photo and private messages with sexual overtones he exchanged with a female constituent — that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Among those in the race: Republicans Ellzey, Wright, Deborah Gagliardi, Mark Mitchell, Troy Ratterree, Mel Hassell, Craig Walker, Shawn Dandridge, Kevin Harrison, Adrian Mizher, Ken Cope, Shannon Dubberly and Thomas Dillingham. Democrats in the race: Ruby Faye Woolridge, Jana Lynne Sanchez, Levii R. Shocklee, John W. Duncan and Justin Snider.

Perry cited several reasons for supporting Ellzey, including noting that he “will serve with honor and dignity as a Congressman for the 6th District, and he will legislate according to the original intent of the Founding Fathers.”

Among the endorsements for Wright: state Sen. Konni Burton; state Reps. Tony Tinderholt, Bill Zedler, Matt Krause, Craig Goldman and Stephanie Klick; Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley; Tarrant County Commissioners Gary Fickes and Andy Nguyen; Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn; Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson; Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder; Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia; Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams; Mansfield Mayor David Cook; and Dalworthington Gardens Mayor Kimberly Fitzpatrick.

Looking ahead

The March 6 primary election is the next time Texans can cast ballots.

But work already is going on behind the scenes to line up candidates for the May 5 local election. Filing for that election has begun and runs through Feb. 16.

Local voters will be able in May to weigh in on everything from a $399.5 million bond package in Fort Worth to city council posts in cities such as Arlington and Mansfield and school board races in districts stretching from Birdville to Everman and Kennedale.