At MLK Youth Pa­rade, calls for re­spect and re­jec­tion of pres­i­dent’s vul­gar re­marks

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - CITY | STATE - By St. John Barned-Smith

Cym­bals clashed, drums pounded and trum­pets blasted in the chilly morn­ing air Satur­day as hun­dreds of chil­dren marched through Mid­town in the 12th An­nual MLK Youth Pa­rade.

Dozens of dancers, mu­si­cians and cheer­lead­ers per­formed, as politi­cos, proud par­ents and Hous­to­ni­ans lined the streets to en­joy the cel­e­bra­tion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

Yet, one dis­so­nant chord re­ver­ber­ated un­com­fort­ably through the trib­ute to the slain civil rights leader: Re­cent re­ports that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dis­par­aged African na­tions by call­ing them “shit­holes.” Even the youngest of the pa­rade­go­ers re­jected the re­mark, which they said rang counter to King’s legacy and rep­re­sented a step back­ward in a decades­long strug­gle for racial equal­ity.

Dozens of mem­bers of the Good News Saints foot­ball and cheer team, from the east Hous­ton Good News Chris­tian Fel­low­ship Church, clapped and cheered as they per­formed.

King’s mes­sage to Trump would have been sim­ple, they ex­plained.

“He stood up for every­body,” one child said.

Amaya Ed­wards, 8, smiled shyly when re­count­ing about King’s legacy.

“Be nice to peo­ple,” she said. “Give re­spect.”

Adrian Nar­vaez, a 17-yearold se­nior and the drum ma­jor for Stephen F. Austin High School’s Sonic Boom march­ing band, said MLK would have one more piece of ad­vice for the Trump era.

“He would say stop fight­ing every­body,” he said. “It doesn’t

mat­ter what coun­try you’re from. Every­body needs to unite.”

A few blocks down San Jac­into, Shan­ice Phillips, 29, watched the pa­rade trickle by, as her bun­dled up 2-year-old, Joelle Phillips, bobbed and swayed in time to the mu­sic.

Phillips had seen kids from dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties, dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests, and dif­fer­ent ar­eas all work­ing to cel­e­brate to­gether. What might King make of it?

“How far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go,” she said.

Kineisha Star, 16, trav­eled with dozens of mem­bers of her group, the Isis­erettes Drill & Drum Corp., all the way from Des Moines, Iowa, to par­tic­i­pate in the Hous­ton pa­rade, af­ter first per­form­ing in it in 2011.

“If not for Martin Luther King, we wouldn’t all be here,” Star said. “Any­body can change a prob­lem in the world. They just have to put their mind to it and get through it.”

Yi-Chin Lee / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

Kineisha Star, 16, leads the dancers in the Isis­erettes Drill and Drum Corps. from Des Moines, Iowa, march­ing in the 12th An­nual MLK Youth Pa­rade on Satur­day in Hous­ton. The pa­rade fea­tured 10 pa­rade floats and 20 march­ing bands.

Yi-Chin Lee pho­tos / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

Spec­ta­tors cover them­selves in big jack­ets and blan­kets to stay warm while watch­ing the MLK Youth Pa­rade on Satur­day in Hous­ton.

Grayson Smith, 20, plays drums in the Isis­erettes Drill and Drum Corps. The group from Des Moines, Iowa, last per­formed in the pa­rade in 2011.

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