HOUSTON -- A parade to MacGregor Park south of downtown near the University of Houston and a march through the park began the dedication ceremony of Houston's Martin Luther King Memorial statue Saturday.
National leaders and historic figures, including the famous slain civil rights leader's son flew to Houston for the event. Martin Luther King, III said the movement goes on "until there is equal justice for everyone."
After speeches by dozens of local and national politicians and activists, the moment arrived and the bronze statue was unveiled.
Years ago activists planted a tree in a median of Houston's MLK Boulevard to stand "as a sentinel" until a statue could be erected. When Metro started work on an MLK rail line, it wanted to remove the tree. The head of the Black Heritage Society chained himself to it in protest.
"The first train may run over my dead body," Ovide Duncantell said at the time, two years ago.
The Tree Of Life, as it is called, was moved to MacGregor Park. A memorial plaza was designed and built near the tree. Metro picked up the $750,000 tab.
A bronze statue was commissioned and paid for with private funds.
Seeing the work for the first time, Martin Luther King, III said it was a good representation of his father. It shows him holding a Bible to his heart with an outstretched right hand.
The crowd cheered when it got its first look at the memorial statue. Many had stood in the heat for hours waiting until a lengthy program ended in order to see the statue unveiled.