By Texas State University
Janice Francis is an active Texas Southern University alumna from the Jesse H. Jones School of Business. As volunteer coordinator for the 44th Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in Houston and a member of the Black Heritage Society, she honors MLK’s life and legacy. We asked Janice about what goes into planning the parade and about his lasting legacy.
1. What is your role in planning the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Houston and what inspired you to get involved?
I have been involved with the Black Heritage Society, Inc. (BHS) since 2011. I was the office administrator when Ovide Duncantell was alive. Currently, I am the volunteer coordinator for the 44th Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade. BHS had the first parade in America for the Dr. King holiday. My father always had a Martin Luther King, Jr. party when he was alive; therefore, I am a part of BHS to honor my father (Freddie L. Francis, Jr.).
2. What goes into putting on a successful Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and what about the event are you most proud of?
A combination of people willing to work hard, volunteers, Board members, parade participates and the community always supporting the BHS parade is what makes our parade successful. I am proud of the late Ovide Duncantell honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for 44 years, and most proud of the Dr. King Statue and Plaza area at MacGregor Park. My name is on one of the plaques at the park.
3. What other groups or projects are you involved with and why is it important to raise awareness and funds for these causes?
I am very active in several other organizations. First of all, I am a Lifetime Member of Texas Southern University National Alumni Association, Jesse H. Jones School of Business Alumni Chapter member, chairperson of the Jesse H. Jones School of Business Scholarship program, member of George T. Nelson Harris County Council of Organizations, member of A. Philip Randolph Institute, and active in working political campaigns. Since most of these organizations are 501©(3), it is very important for donations to be made to these wonderful organizations to put on different events throughout the year.
4. Why do you think it is important to have MLK Jr. Day and it be a Day of Service?
The importance of having MLK, Jr. Day be a Day of Service is for those of us who have reaped the benefits of all the horrendous things that prior generations had to endure for equality and acceptance to be enjoyed by generations that follow. One should follow the three Ts: time, talent and treasure.
5. What resonates most about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life to you today?
I appreciate the fact that he gave his time and life to fight for civil rights that he believed should be allowed for all people to enjoy in America.
6. As an alumna from the Jesse H. Jones School of Business, why did you choose Texas Southern University to earn your degree?
Since I am a native Houstonian, I never wanted to leave Houston to get my education. Some family members attended Texas Southern University, and I wanted to do the same as my family.