Written by By Sondra Hernandez of The Courier of Montgomery County.
Expect the festivities during this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration to be the biggest, loudest and longest yet.
In 2016, two-time Emmy Award winning television producer, expert baker and personality Rushion McDonold served as the Grand Marshal for the MLK Grand Parade and it was the largest turnout ever for the event.
This year, he returns to participate in the parade again and he said to expect more bands, more floats and more entertainment.
“If you’re going to invite somebody out to a show, you better have a show,” he said in a phone interview from Atlanta.
Three events from Jan. 14-16 celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
The first is the 11th Annual MLK Youth Parade on Jan. 14 at noon at San Jacinto and Elgin streets. Civil Rights activist and attorney for Traevon Martin, Benjamin Crump, is the parade’s Grand Marshal. Ten parade floats and 20 marching bands will perform in this parade.
The second event is the 16th Annual Battle of the Bands Competition Jan. 15 at 4 p.m. at W.W. Thorne Stadium in Houston.
More than 20 nationally acclaimed marching bands from across the country, including the best high school marching bands from Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas are participating.
Finally, on Jan. 16, the MLK Grande Parade is at 10 a.m. at San Jacinto and Elgin streets in Houston.
The Grand Marshals are Tina Knowles-Lawson and Richard Lawson of Richard Lawson Studios-Hollywood.
McDonald will participate in this year’s parade and hopes it’ll be the biggest MLK Jr. celebration yet.
McDonald, a native Houstonian raised in the 5th Ward, said it was an honor to be considered for Grand Marshal in 2016.
He attended high school at Forest Brook High School where he was on an academic path heading into college.
He studied mathmatics as a major at the University of Houston.
And it was his time at the University of Houston that he says changed his life and shaped who he is today.
Up until college he’d been on an academic path, but at UH he began to explore the social aspects of life through leading the student body and as a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
He became involved in charitable events and experimented with stand-up comedy.
“Studying political science and sociology allowed me to see life from a non-technical perspective,” he said.
McDonald worked at IBM for a time and eventually explored stand-up comedy and work in the entertainment industry.
“I really could see a future at IBM, but with entertainment there were so many unknowns and those possibilities excited me,” he said.
“I could write, I could model, I could do stand up. In entertainment, there’s no controls and you have the freedom to think and create as you felt.”
Through stand up McDonald met and partnered with Steve Harvey on projects and he also worked with the WB and UPN network and in radio.
Now he’s an entrepreneur, expert baker and hosts a Facebook session every Monday at noon called Money Making Conversations where he answers the questions of the public regarding their careers or businesses.
“I’m a kid from the 5th ward. My dad is a truck driver, I have six sisters and two brothers,” he said.
“I’ve had no special advances, it’s just been through hard work. And in theory, that’s what Dr. King preached, that you can be whatever you want to be.”
McDonald noted Dr. King’s message about opportunity for everyone still applies today.
“Right now we need it the most because of some of the values expressed out there,” he said.
“Racial fear and religious fear are being promoted in a lot of ways as the right way to think. When you think that way, it kills diversity and diversity is what makes this country great and what has made this country great.”
Visit the website www.mlkgrandeparade.org for more about this weekend’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations.