Ovide Duncantell, creator of the country’s first Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, was laid to rest over the weekend.
Duncantell died on October 25, according to KHOU. He was 82 years old.
Duncantell founded the Black Heritage Society in 1978 and organized the parade the same year. He was active in Houston in the fight for civil rights and successfully lobbied to have the city's South Park Boulevard renamed Martin Luther King Boulevard, reports ABC13. The activist also oversaw the erection of a statue of King in Houston’s McGregor Park.
In 2012, Duncantell chained himself to a tree he planted to honor King after it was threatened by the construction of a light rail, according to Houston Chronicle.
"I'm 75 years old, but I'm still a warrior," Duncantell said at the time.
The moment was remembered at his funeral by many, including Houston City Councilman Michael Kubosh.
"I'm going to remember that he chained himself to a tree that he had planted years ago in the memory of Dr. King," Kubosh said.
The activist's bravery was also honored at the ceremony.
"In this day and age, there are so few people willing to die for what's right," Houston Independent School District School Board Vice President Jolanda Jones said. "He was willing to die."
Although MLK died before he could launch his Poor People's Campaign, Duncantell fought poverty on every front in the Houston area starting in the 1960s.
“The movement in Houston for poor people and black people was pioneered by Ovide Duncantell,” Joseph Tasby, a community organizer, told The Houston Chronicle. “He always called himself a good soldier, but he was our general.”
Even though the activist is gone, his legacy will live on through his work and the parade.
"This parade is a reminder that there's still an opportunity to preserve the dream, to continue to keep that legacy alive of hope, inclusivity, support and love," said Ivy Okoro, assistant project manager, for the parade. "Mr. Duncantell represented all of those things."
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