Martin Luther King Jr. Day was marked Monday by the 38th Kingdom Day Parade, service projects, a Unity Walk in Santa Clarita, a program at the California African American Museum and a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
The three-mile parade began at 10 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, just west of Western Avenue, proceed west to Crenshaw Boulevard and then south to Vernon Avenue, concluding near the K Line’s Leimert Park Station. The theme was “America, the Best Hope of the World.”
Hundreds of people lined the parade route, with days of rain finally letting up and the skies clearing for the procession.
The grand marshal was George C. Fatheree III, the leader of a team of attorneys who secured the return of Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce nearly a century after it had been taken by Manhattan Beach as a result of racial animus.
“It shows that as a country we’re still capable of great things,” Fatheree told ABC7 along the route. ” … We showed it’s not too late, we can get it done. It’s fitting that we’re here on Dr. King’s birthday, this celebration, it’s about doing what’s right. One of my favorite Dr. King quotes is `the time is always right to do right,’ and that time is right now.”
This was the first time the parade will be on Martin Luther King Jr. Day since 2020. The 2021 parade was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 2022 parade was initially canceled due to the severity of serious spikes in COVID-19 hospitalizations, then rescheduled on June 20, the day the federal Juneteenth holiday was observed.
The USC Trojan Marching Band participated in the parade for the first time along with the new all-Black majorette team Cardinal Divas of SC. The Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band also participated, along with the marching bands from Centennial, Compton and Crenshaw high schools.
Other participants included equestrian units from the Equine Advisory Council, Elite Horseback Riders Club and Urban Saddles; the Crenshaw Christian Center Drill Team and Drumline, the Kim Eung Hwa Dance Company and Tommy the Clown, credited as the creator of the clown-based dance style krumping.
Among the dignitaries taking part were Mayor Karen Bass, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore, Los Angeles County Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Holly Mitchell, Reps. Maxine Waters and Sydney Kamlager, Sen. Steve Bradford, Los Angeles City Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho and Board of Education member George J. McKenna III.
“It’s always the feeling of joy, celebrating Dr. King’s legacy,” Bass told ABC7 during the parade. “But it’s a time to get energized and re-committed to what he was fighting for to begin with. And this year we always ask ourselves at this time of the year what would Dr. King say? What would Dr. King think? And just imagine Dr. King coming to Los Angeles and seeing thousands of Angelenos sleeping on the street. He would expect everybody in Los Angeles to step up and deal with that situation, so that’s what I’m calling on people to do.”
A variety of service projects were also planned throughout Los Angeles County to fulfill the goal set by Congress in 1994 to make the day a “day on, not a day off,”
The nonprofit volunteer action center L.A. Works held a Day of Service from noon-3:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where volunteers created urban greening kits and assembled disaster preparedness materials.
The event also included a food festival with vegan food, the opportunity to learn about local efforts to combat climate change and a family zone with volunteer activities designed for children.
King spoke at the Coliseum in 1964.
The volunteer organization Big Sunday conducted its 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Clothing Drive & Community Breakfast from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at 24th St. Elementary School in South Los Angeles. Volunteers were expected to collect and assemble 2,023 cold-weather clothing kits that include sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats, scarves, gloves and socks for people who are struggling.
Big Sunday volunteers also undertook several improvement projects for and with the 24th Street Elementary School community, including indoor mural and gardening projects, according to David Levinson, Big Sunday’s founder and executive director.
Service projects in Long Beach organized by the leadership program Leadership Long Beach included:
— a sock drive;
— letter-writing to senior citizens;
— pulling weeds, mulching areas to prevent weeds from resurfacing and planting native plants at Willow Springs Park;
— planting succulents for participating businesses, painting planter boxes, picking up trash and street cleaning on Fourth Street;
— picking up trash, painting the picnic area, restoring playground sand and pressure-washing the basketball courts at MacArthur Park;
— painting trash cans in the Santa Fe Business Corridor;
— watering the 100 baby trees planted in Long Beach’s Westside in November; and
— restoring sidewalks in Long Beach’s Westside.
Santa Clarita held its second annual Unity Walk in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Central Park, focusing on King’s legacy and contributions to the nation.
Several speakers celebrated King’s life and work, encourage attendees to embrace King’s core values of faith, education, nonviolence, love, leadership, community and hope and participate in a day of service.
The theme of the program at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park for Martin Luther King Jr. Day was “MLK: A Legacy of Service.”
A King study group session began with the playing of a recording of King’s 1967 speech at Riverside Church in New York City, “Time to Break the Silence,” followed by a group discussion about how his words relate to the present.
Storytellers from the Los Angeles Public Library will read children’s books about King and how to build a better world from 12:30-1 p.m.
The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles will perform a tribute to King from 2-3 p.m.
The program also includes family activities, craft-making and food trucks.
A Mass commemorating King’s call for service will be celebrated by Archbishop JosÃ© H. Gomez at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at 3 p.m.
In his proclamation declaring Monday Martin Luther King Jr. Day President Joe Biden said, “On this day of commemoration, service and action, let us hold up a mirror to America and ask ourselves: `What kind of country do we want to be?’
“Will we honor Dr. King’s legacy by rising together — buttressed by each other’s successes, enriched by each other’s differences and made whole by each other’s compassion? I believe we can.
“It will require constant care for our democracy, stubborn faith in this great experiment, and a commitment to stamping out discrimination in all forms. It will demand honest reflection about how far we have come and how far we have yet to go to be the best version of ourselves.
“But like Dr. King, I know that there is nothing beyond this nation’s capacity and that we will fulfill the promise of America for all Americans — perfecting the union we love and must protect.”