Ovide Duncantell was born in Natchitoches, Louisiana, August 7, 1936. He attended school there until graduating in 1955, where he entered the United States Air Force and was honorably discharged in 1959. Returning home after leaving the service, he soon discovered his vision of success wouldn’t be achieved there. He married a hometown girl and left for Los Angeles, California. However, he stopped in Houston, Texas to visit with his new wife’s brothers and has been a permanent resident ever since.
In 1969 he went to work for the Anti-Poverty Program-Houston Community Action Association. There, he organized youth adults and senior citizens to ban together and improve their communities from 1970-1973. He later created his own organization entitled “The Central Committee for the Protection of Poor People.” The organization’s mission and goals were to assist the community in obtaining much needed social services. While assisting the community in obtaining these much needed services, he became politically involved in the political structure of Houston, and later deciding to run for various public offices, including Mayoral and County Commissioner post. Upon the various defeats, he went to work for newly elected Commissioner, Tom Bass from 1973-1977. There he assisted in the appointment of several new key county office positions which he was instrumental in the elections and placement of the first black Harris County Constable, A. B. Chambers along with several Justices of the Peace. Coupled with his employment and community assistance, he would also earn his Bachelor and Masters Degree in Sociology from Texas Southern University.
In 1974, Ovide Duncantell created and became Founder and Executive Director of the Black Heritage Society Inc., emerging as one of the driving forces behind the renaming of a major thoroughfare to Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard. The street ran through a predominantly African American neighborhood. Duncantell’s zeal, persistence and enthusiasm resulted in the mobilization of the community in favor of South Park Boulevard becoming Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard. The Reverend Martin Luther (“Daddy ”) King, Sr., was so impressed by the Black Heritage Society fervent energy and gesture of respect, for his deceased Son until he made a personal appearance at the Street Name Change and served as the BHS first MLK Parade “Grand Marshal,” January 21, 1978. The street was christened by a City-Wide Parade down the newly named boulevard. Making a pact and promise to Dr. King’s father, “Daddy King,” Duncantell and the BHS has since conducted the annual MLK Parade in Houston for 35 consecutive years. Duncantell is also responsible for the most recent announcement of the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Statue & Park Plaza now under construction and scheduled to be completed prior to the “official Unveiling” of memorial on January 20, 2014.