Remembering King

7 Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Houston

There are service opportunities, parades, virtual events and more to mark the Civil Rights Movement icon's special day.

By Geneva Diaz

Statue in honor of Martin Luther King in Washington, DC.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday is a time to honor the life and legacy of one of the most recognized Civil Rights Movement heroes, Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

In Houston, an effort to desegregate lunch counters that involved Texas Southern University students in 1960 was inspired by King's movement. 

Since then, we honor King by bringing celebration and service to the community. Whether you are celebrating with friends and family at any of two MLK parades in Houston, or using the day to volunteer,  MLK Day is a day to reflect on the anti-racism efforts that King fought for, and the plight for racial justice issues today.

Here is a list of ways Houston is showing its love on MLK Day:

Remember: Check the events’ website for last-minute cancellations due to COVID.

Rothko Chapel’s 2022 Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration

This year, Rothko Chapel presents Songs for Justice, a series of conversations and concerts about the role that music plays in social justice movements. Learn from scholars of music, race and politics on the history and importance that music plays in activism. Celebrate in the comfort of your own home and enjoy the Community Music Center of Houston’s Scott Joplin Chamber Orchestra. They will play music paramount to MLK’s leadership during the Civil Rights Movement. Online on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 3 p.m. 

This is a virtual event. All participants must register to receive the link to view here.

MLK Jr. Dream Catcher Bike Ride

This is a fun, outdoorsy and socially distant activity that gives you the opportunity to bike around at the several locations MLK visited on his last trip to Houston. An 18-mile long celebratory ride might seem long, but the average pace will be at a maximum of 15 mph. Bring a friend and go at your own pace! Just be sure to arrive on time because the bike ride will start at 8 a.m. sharp on Saturday, Jan. 15.

The bike ride will start on 1307 Taft Street. For more details on COVID safety suggestions and route information click here.

44th Annual MLK Day Parade and Festival- Downtown

Curated by the Black Heritage Society Organization, this family-friendly event will feature plenty of art, music and performances. The parade will start on the corner of Smith and Lamar. Monday, Jan. 17 at 10 a.m.

Following the parade, enjoy food, music, face painting, kid-friendly activities, and more at the MLK Festival located at City Hall happening until 5 p.m. 

Visit the Black Heritage Society Organization’s website for more information here.

Afro-Atlantic Histories Exhibit at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Learn about the history of the transatlantic slave trade and visit the Afro-Atlantic Histories exhibit. The exhibition features more than 130 works of art and documents made in Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe across 500 years, from the 17th century to the 21st century. The last day to view the Afro-Atlantic Histories exhibit is Monday, January 17

To learn more, visit the MFAH website here.

28th Annual MLK Grande Parade- Midtown

The 28th Annual MLK Grande Parade is planned to have 300 performance groups, including 30 marching bands from across the U.S., and will feature the United States Air Force Presidential Honor Guard from Washington, D.C. The parade will be televised on CW 39-Houston Live, and its theme, “Social Inclusion,” will emphasize how our nation’s strengths are found through diversity. Begins Monday, Jan 17, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The MLK Midtown parade will start in Midtown at San Jacinto Street and Elgin Street and will continue one mile on San Jacinto to Webster Street. Visit here for more details and updates.

MLK Day 24 Hour Rebuild

What better way to honor MLK Jr.’s life than to serve others. Volunteer Houston has a number of service opportunities happening on MLK day, one being a 24 Hour Home Rebuild and disaster recovery. Volunteers do not need any construction experience and all tools and materials will be provided. This is a family-friendly event open to children over the age of 14. The event will start on Monday, Jan. 17 at 6 a.m., and will continue until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Volunteers must provide proof of vaccination and will require that masks are worn throughout the day. For a full list of volunteer opportunities happening on MLK Day, visit here.

ServeHTX: MLK Day of Service, (postponed until Feb. 25, 2022)

If you’re a student or part of the University of Houston community, you get extra time to celebrate, because UH’s ServeHTX has postponed their service day until next month, due to COVID-19 safety measures. Participants will be able to select from a wide range of projects, including gardening, painting and neighborhood cleanups. Transportation, lunch, a t-shirt, and all tools and materials required for service projects will be provided. The new date is set for Friday, February 25 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

To register, go to their website here. If you have any questions, call the Center for Student Involvement at 832-842-6245.

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