Local King Day activities abound

Merdies Hayes | 1/9/2014, midnight

The 29th annual Kingdom Day Parade, honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will roll through the Crenshaw District on Jan. 20 beginning at 11 a.m. traveling west from Martin Luther King Boulevard and Western Avenue, and culminating at Leimert Park (Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Avenue).

Presented by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), officials proclaim the festival as “...a way to be joyous about King’s life and work.” At least 30 marching groups, 20 floats, 17 drill teams and 16 bands along with an estimated 100,000 onlookers will pay tribute to the slain minister and Nobel laureate who would have turned 85 on Jan. 15. King’s birthday was written into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

“Fly Around the World,” a cultural exploration festival for teens with special needs, will be part of the “day of service” on Jan. 19 sponsored by the Volunteer Center of South Bay, Harbor and Long Beach. Volunteers will partner with special-needs children to explore different cultures, faiths and traditions from 2 to 4:30 p.m., at the Friendship Circle, 2108 Vail Ave., Redondo Beach. The event will include food, dancing and art from various world cultures. For more details, call the Volunteer Center at (310) 212-7201.

The University of Southern California will host on Jan. 18 “Communities Empowered for Change” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bovard Auditorium. Presented by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress, the morning will include workshops on civic engagement, “EmpowerMENt: Boys and Men of Color in the Second District,” funding opportunities for the arts, and a healthcare expo and workshop for Affordable Care Act registration. Ridley-Thomas is a former president of the Los Angeles branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the civil rights group that King helped found in Atlanta, Ga., in 1957.

Another day of service will take place Jan. 20 at Horace Mann Middle School, 7001 S. St. Andrews Place, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers are still needed to help paint educational murals, deliver inspirational quotes and even design favorite college logos which, in a few years, some of the youth may call their own.

Culver City’s Ninth annual King Day Celebration on Jan. 18 will feature a 10:30 a.m. screening of director Sidney Lumet’s critically-acclaimed 1970 film “King: A Filmed Record...from Montgomery to Memphis.” The film chronicles the trials and tribulations of the Civil Rights Movement beginning with the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1955, to the King assassination in Memphis, Tenn., in April 1968. The keynote presentation will be delivered by Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith of Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City. Other activities will include a panel discussion on the impact of King’s legacy; a dramatic rendition of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by actor Gerald Rivers; the debut of “Ways to Practice Nonviolence” (a public service announcement by members of the Culver City Teen Center), and a performance by singer-songwriter Rickie Byars Beckwith. The event is free. For more details, call (310) 253-6675.