Houston’s Annual Martin Luther King, Junior Grande Parade

The MLK Parade Foundation has only one purpose: to promote racial harmony. Each year it works on this goal by organizing an enormous parade on Martin Luther King, Junior’s birthday.
MLK parade houston

On Monday, January 15, Houston is expecting 300,000 people to line the one-mile route, and another four million people to watch the annual parade on television.

The MLK Grande Parade is the country’s third largest parade, only surpassed in viewership by the Rose Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Houston will fill with the sounds of 30 marching bands strutting through midtown. The parade begins at the corner of San Jacinto Street and Elgin at 10 am and will last for about two hours. The 2018 theme is “the color of unity.”

Parade History

While it takes thousands of people to put on a parade, the father of the MLK Grande is Ovide Duncantell, founder of the Black Heritage Society. This long-time activist and champion of the poor helped get South Park Boulevard renamed Martin Luther King, Junior Boulevard in the mid-1970s, and organized the first MLK day parade in 1978. Martin Luther King, Senior served as grand marshal of the first parade. People waited for hours on a cold, rainy morning to cheer Dr. King on as he led the parade through Houston.


This year’s parade announcers are Johnny B, a DJ at contemporary Christian music station KSBJ, and Von Won, musician, and minister. The weekend kicks off with the 12th annual MLK Youth Parade on Saturday, January 13. Boasting 200,000 spectators, the youth parade has grown to be a huge parade in its own right. Expect 20 marching bands, 10 floats, and lots of additional performing groups. On the afternoon of Sunday, January 14, there will be 20 nationally acclaimed bands fighting it out for musical dominance at the 17th annual MLK Battle of the Bands.

Best way to get there

The MLK Grande Parade emphasizes that there is really only one race: the human race. And while people are all alike in many intangible ways – we all feel the same emotions, yearnings, and needs – we’re also alike in very tangible ways. For example, nobody finds it easy to park when 300,000 people are descending upon Midtown Houston. The solution? Arrange to arrive at the parade in style, ease and comfort by chartering a bus for your group. AFC makes that possible. Riding in a luxury group vehicle and leaving the parking to somebody else is the stress-free way to enjoy this historic and meaningful parade.