Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rev. Martin Luther King during a press conference on Nov. 6 1964. Photo credit: Dick DeMarsico/World Telegram & Sun/Public Domain

Thousands of people lined the streets of South Los Angeles Monday for the 34th annual Kingdom Day Parade, billed by organizers as the nation’s largest and longest-running celebration of the birth of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The parade began at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue, moving west to Crenshaw Boulevard and then south to Vernon Avenue. The theme was “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Democracy,” and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served as grand marshal.

Bands from 10 high schools, including Centennial, Inglewood and Compton highs, performed for the cheering crowds along the 3-mile parade route.

“It’s just a peaceful environment, and it’s just awesome,” one parade-goer told KTLA5, noting the ethnically mixed crowd lining the streets.

Another viewer said the parade is a chance to “just embrace being together.”

Thirty students from the all-girls Catholic Immaculate Heart High School in Los Feliz marched in honor of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, a 1999 graduate.

Emmy-winning actor Glynn Turman rode with the Buffalo Soldiers 10th Calvary Mounted Unit. The parade also featured equestrian units from the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Also in the procession was a bus from the 1950s symbolizing public transportation’s role in the civil rights movement. A delegation from South Korea also took part.

NBA career scoring record-holder Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Harlem Globetrotters forward Chris “Animal” Hyche and personalities from KDAY-FM (93.5), KJLH-FM (102.3), KRRL-FM (92.3) and KTWV-FM (94.7) were among the parade participants.

Also marching were elected officials such as Reps. Maxine Waters and Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, D-San Pedro, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmen Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

A festival at Leimert Park followed the parade.

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