A student band marches during a parade to mark the Martin Luther King Day in Houston, Jan. 20, 2014. Various activities are held on the third Monday of January each year throughout the United States to honor Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the age of 39. (Xinhua/Song Qiong)
Click here for more photos>>>
HOUSTON, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Two parades were held in the fourth largest U.S. city of Houston Monday to honor the life and legacy of the country's late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr..
The 20th Annual MLK Grande Parade began Monday morning near the central campus of the Houston Community College in Midtown Houston. Thousands of spectators, mostly African-Americans packed the streets to watch bands, performing groups and elected officials ride on floats.
Katie McCall, a volunteer, told Xinhua it was her fifth time to serve the event. "Dr. King has given me and people around me so many inspirations. He is always relevant. That's why we keep remembering him," said she.
Simultaneously, in downtown Houston, the 36th annual "original" MLK Parade, sponsored by the Black Heritage Society, attracted a larger and more diverse crowd of spectators.
Organizers said the parade's theme was "Welcoming the Spirit of Dr. King." The floats and participants were paying special tribute to the anniversary of the March on Washington and Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The March in Washington, which took place on Aug. 27, 1963, was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in the United States history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. On the second day of the march, Martin Luther King, Jr., standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which falls on the third Monday of January each year, was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986.
Parades and other activities were held on Monday throughout the United States to honor Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the age of 39.