Hall High School basketball and football standout Charles Houston will headline the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Event at Alcoa High School Monday, Jan. 21.
The event, said Houston, is a time to celebrate King’s life, the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and the cost of freedom and of having the right to do things.
“Sometimes you think it’s not that valuable, but, at the end of the day, it was expensive,” said Houston. “For him, it cost him his life.”
Houston is the keynote speaker at The Celebration Event that begins at 1 p.m. on Monday, Mon., Jan. 21, at 1:30 p.m.
The Celebration Event begins with a parade at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 209 E. Franklin Street, and it ends at Alcoa High School. Participants can begin assembling for the parade at 1 p.m. The program at the school begins at 2 p.m.
Houston reflected back on his life growing up in the Hall Community when his parents “lived in the middle of Alcoa.
“Coming from South Hall, we have fond memories of people in that community. That led me to this career. You look back on where you came as an individual and the nine or 10 streets in the South Hall community - we learned from growing up there,” he said. “What I want to talk about is the value that is still there and about being able to walk in those nine streets with pride.
“The community has been good to me. I came out a good person, and I’m coming back to help others.”
Houston is the brother of former University of Tennessee basketball coach Wade Houston and uncle to former UT and NBA player Alan Houston.
Houston said that although his parents sold their residence on Fulton Street years ago, they were able to get the place back, and there are plans to rebuild and remodel it so Houston’s parents can visit and spend a night there whenever they want.
Martin Luther King Jr. day has meaning, Houston said. “It’s a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. You can’t do that without giving him all the worldly ‘props,’” he said.
The best way to honor King is to celebrate his life. “Today things are available that we take for granted but there’s still work to be done and a lot of it is being done. We have freedom. We can’t take that for granted. It didn’t come easily.”
Houston is with the University of Tennessee Office of Development. As an Alcoa resident, he participated in what he calls “the golden years” of Hall High School football and basketball. After high school, Houston played varsity basketball at the University of Cincinnati before a major knee injury stopped his college career.
After college, Houston spent several years in the business world working in management with Sears. His next move was to become an entrepreneur. He then worked with such companies as Cartel Cellular, Burger King, Papa John’s Pizza, and he helped expand the national distribution of “Glory Foods.”
After Houston finished his bachelor’s degree at Murray State University, he worked as coordinator for multicultural recruitment and retention for the Office of the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.
While Houston is working to complete his masters in organizational communication at Murray State University, he was recently named director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the University of Tennessee.
n On Fri., Jan. 18, at noon there will be a business luncheon at the Associate Center at Denso Manufacturing, 1720 Robert C. Jackson Drive, Maryville. Keynote speaker is Joan Cronan, women’s athletic director for the University of Tennessee. The cost is $25 per person or $250 for a table of 10. Seating is reserved by calling 865-983-2241.