By Steve Pickett

ARLINGTON, Texas (CBS11) – The celebrations for the nation’s remembrances of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are being finalized.

In Arlington, an announced holiday parade is getting praise and protest, based on the announced honorary marshal of the parade, Governor Greg Abbott.

The Toyota MLK Parade and celebration is billed as a regional holiday event, scheduled for Arlington on January 15, the birth date for America’s most noted civil rights leader.

Organizers call it a unity parade, but public calls for protests are being encouraged on social media from critics against abbott’s involvement.

“What has governor abbott done for health care, for voter rights,” asked Rev. Kennedy Jones, President of the Arlington Ministerial Association.

Jones says King’s legacy must be honored with those who work to continue the civil rights leader. “I would be the first to march with the governor, if he pledged to work for voters rights and healthcare for the poor. When you look at this situation, this governor, it’s not a good idea,” Jones said.

Social media posts were critical of the governor’s selection for the MLK parade. “Disrespectful to the legacy of Dr. King,” Irving civil rights activist Anthony Bond wrote.

The governor took to social media himself Thursday, confirming his role in the Arlington parade. His office responded with the following statement:

“Events like the one being hosted in Arlington are designed to celebrate and honor the life and legacy of Dr. King. It’s a shame that some are politicizing what should be a unifying event. Governor Abbott’s participation will be focused on the remembrance of a man who made an important mark on history and he looks forward to attending this event.”

Retired Tarrant County Judge L. Clifford Davis is the grand marshal for the scheduled parade. Davis is a Tarrant County civil rights icon. He spent decades leading legal battles against segregation policies in North Texas.

Davis said he’s heard the complaints about the Abbott choice, but he wants the governor there.

“The fact he’s in this parade causes him to give thought to things he may not have thought about before,” Davis said.

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