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City of Houston Announces MLK Day Parade Plans and Names Johnson Space Center Director as 2022 Grand Marshal

Watch: Mayor Turner introduces Vannessa E. Wyche as the 44th Original MLK Jr. Day Parade Grand Marshal
Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Black Heritage Society today announced plans for the 44th annual Original MLK Day Parade.

This year’s parade will begin at 10 a.m., Monday, Jan. 17, starting at the intersection of Smith and Lamar streets in downtown Houston.

Vanessa E. Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, accepted the City’s invitation to serve as the 2022 parade grand marshal. In addition, the City will salute and honor African American astronauts who have or will travel to space in the future.

“I’m thankful to the City of Houston, Mayor Turner and Black Heritage Society for recognizing me and our African American NASA astronauts who can dream big thanks to leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. who had a bold vision for our nation. At NASA, we promote racial equality, eliminate barriers, and ensure fairness for all, and I’m looking forward to the day we land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface under Artemis,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Wyche is the first African American to lead NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the first African American woman to lead any NASA center. Her leadership comes when space travel inspires Americans young and old and takes our nation to greater heights.”January 17 is a time for our country and our community to honor Dr. King and his life’s work which he dedicated to equality and equity in areas like affordable housing, health care, equity, and voting rights,” Mayor Turner said. “This year’s parade grand marshal is someone who truly represents the best of Houston and reflects the dreams and soaring achievement Dr. King championed. By working together, there are no limits to what we can achieve.”

“I’m humbled and honored to be named grand marshal of the 44th Original MLK Jr. Day Parade and Celebration. Since the early days of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, NASA’s Johnson Space Center has been engaged in humankind’s greatest adventure of exploration by serving as a center of excellence for human spaceflight missions. This year is particularly special, as we celebrate our 60th anniversary in Space City,” said Wyche.

The president of the Black Heritage Society, Teresa Brewer, announced the organization has chosen Claude Cummings, Jr., Regional Vice President, Communications Workers of America (CWA), Gilbert Andrew Garcia, CFA, Managing Partner, and Al Kashani, President, Horizon United Group as co-grand marshals.

Parade sponsors include ATT, Radio One, and Allegiance Bank.

This year’s parade will kick off with Texas Southern University’s Ocean of Soul band, followed by dozens of colorful floats, marching bands, and special surprises.

“I am inviting people from the entire city to join us in unity to honor Dr. King,” said Mayor Turner.

The mayor is encouraging people to wear face masks and to get vaccinated, boosted, and tested for COVID-19 before participating in the parade or lining up downtown to watch it.

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