'A symbol of hope': An inside look at Martin Luther King Jr.'s lasting impact on Houston

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to Houston.

Through some of the darkest years in our country's history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood tall and reminded the world of a dream filled with hope, change and equality.

In Houston, his legacy is still remembered today.

It was October 1967 when Dr. King landed in the Bayou City. The civil rights leader was set to join Harry Belafonte and Aretha Franklin for a concert at Houston's Coliseum.

In an interview with ABC13's Melanie Lawson in 2011, DeLoyd Parker said Dr. King's visit was met with opposition from a few Houstonians.

"A few ministers, even ministers who looked like me were not interested in being associated with that subject," Parker said.

As a young disc jockey during King's visit, the late Skipper Lee Frazier offered another reason.

"Back in those days, they spread a rumor, J. Edgar Hoover, that Martin Luther King was a communist," Frazier said. "They spread the rumor and ministers backed away from him."

There would be several ministers who stood tall with King.

Reverend Bill Lawson, then-head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, recalled King's visit to Houston.

"He ended up on the back of a truck, going through the streets -- particularly through TSU and UH," Rev. Lawson said in 2011. "Trying to get people to come by giving them tickets. He still had a hard time filling up the Coliseum."

During the concert, a smoke bomb went off inside.

"Once he got inside the Coliseum, somebody from the White Citizens Council put a smoke bomb in the air conditioning vents. Smoke poured out those vents and people left the Coliseum. Those few who came were driven away."

At the time, Bill Lawson said he felt King's visit was a failure and he was ashamed of the city of Houston.

Six months later, an insurmountable level of hurt and pain would be felt across the world with Dr. King's assassination.

His impact would be everlasting.


24th Annual MLK Grande Parade
Date: January 15, 2018
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Midtown Houston
Place: Parade originates on San Jacinto Street & Elgin Street

Black Heritage Society's 40th Annual "Original" MLK Jr. Parade
Date: January 15, 2018
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Downtown Houston
Place: Parade will start at the corner of Texas and Crawford

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Children's Museum of Houston
The Children's Museum of Houston will host several events honoring Dr. King, including a peace rally, words by Gardere's oratory speech winner and a playing of "I Have a Dream."

Rothko Chapel - Honoring MLK Day
On Jan. 15, the Rothko Chapel will play speeches from Dr. King throughout the day until 3 p.m.

At 7 p.m., the chapel will hold a lecture and conversation with artist Ed Dwight, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, and Texas Southern University Art Historian and Curator Dr. Alvia Wardlaw. The event is moderated by ABC13's Melanie Lawson.

Note: ABC13's "A King Among Presidents" special appeared on "Crossroads" and was awarded a Lone Star Emmy in 2012.
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