While serving as president/CEO of Pacific Coast Bank in San Diego, Larry Grant took an idea and vision he had and turned it into reality.
He created a parade to honor the memory and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Sponsored by the National Cultural Foundation, a Los Angeles area nonprofit, Grant founded and headed, aided by civil rights activist and bail bondsman Celes King III, the Kingdom Day Parade. It began as a small community offering in Los Angeles and grew until it now is watched live on site by thousands of residents and on television by millions more. It also grew to include a San Diego edition.
The 86-year-old parade co-founder died Saturday of heart failure at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, according to his daughter Deborah Grant Lacy.
“. . . Los Angeles mourns the passing of Larry Grant, the founder of the Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a statement.
“As the founder of the Kingdom Day Parade, Mr. Grant ensured the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would resonate to all those touched by the fight for equality and has been celebrated by all Angelenos for 27 years. “He is a gem to our community that will sincerely be missed. He had a true heart of service, and this immeasurable drive was seen through his many remarkable life achievements.
“His contributions will forever live on in our memories and will continue to prevail through the legacy of the Kingdom Day Parade.”
Congresswoman Janice Hahn said this: ” . . . I join all of Los Angeles and the millions of Kingdom Day Parade observers and participants from the past 27 years, in mourning the passing of Mr. Larry Grant.
“Larry Grant was one of those legendary individuals who served his country with honor in the U.S. Army, and later became a local icon in his civilian life.
“When Larry first conceived the idea of a parade honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he brought his plans to my father, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. My father enthusiastically endorsed and embraced the idea.
“In addition to the Kingdom Day Parade here in Los Angeles, Larry also founded large MLK celebrations in Las Vegas and San Diego. Another little known fact about Larry Grant is that because of his perseverance, the Los Angeles City Council took action several years ago to move the public comment segment of their meetings to the beginning of session, which has since saved citizens countless hours of waiting time.
“For these achievements and many more, Larry Grant will be sorely missed. And while it is hard to imagine his signature event without him, every future Kingdom Day Parade in Los Angeles will serve as a tribute to Larry’s legacy of civic pride and commitment to Dr. King’s dream. I was honored to call Larry Grant my friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
What was particularly noteworthy about the Kingdom Day parade is that, like the man it honored, the event encompassed the multitudes. Consequently, each year observers were treated to cultural snippets from the Korean, Hispanic and other communities from the region as well as the various African-descended populations.
Following his work in the banking industry, from which he retired in 1984, Grant, who moved to Carson as a teenager, worked as a senior field deputy for then-Assemblywoman Juanita Millender-McDonald.
He also served on a number of civic boards, including the city of Carson’s Veteran Affairs and the Carson-Torrance NAACP.
Grant is survived by a brother, Byron Grant:; a sister, Sheila Grant Keith; two daughters, Deborah Grant Lacy and Nancy Grant Williams; two sons, Gerald and James; 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.