Forty-seven years after his untimely death America is celebrating the 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday with parades, special events and days of service. Locally a number of cities will mark the day.
The celebration in Long Beach includes a Zumba for Healthy and Peaceful Communities event at 6 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 1950 Lemon Ave. This event features free Zumba instructions and blood pressure screenings along with a free body fat analysis. For info: (562) 570-6816.
Gardena features two days of activities. On Friday, the winner of the annual essay contest will have an opportunity to recite the winning essay beginning at 7 p.m. at the Nakoka Community Center, 1670 W. 162nd St. The evening will also feature performances of tap, ballet, and praise dance. Admission is free.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California (SCLC) continues its week-long series of events with an oratorical contest for middle and high school students from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Museum of African American Art (third floor of Macy’s in the Baldwin Hills Mall). The top three youngsters from each category will present their speeches before a panel of judges.
Youth can participate in a Hip Hop Speaks Night as part of the SCLC King Week events during a program planned with those protesting in front of the LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. The program begins at 7 p.m. Those interested in speaking can sign up until midnight on Thursday by calling (213) 268-4820.
Carson will feature a tribute to King entitled “Time to Take a Stand” beginning at 6 p.m. at the Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald Community Center at Carson, 801 E. Carson St. Admission is free and the event will feature speakers including the president of Cal State University Domingquez Hills, Willie Hagan; and the Rev. Darryl E. Walker of New Philadelphia A.M.E Church in Carson. There will also be performances by vocalist Tiffany Holmes—singing the American anthem and the national Negro Anthem; local pop soloist Henry Charles Johnson and several numbers ( “The Lion King” and “Take Me to the King”) by Sophisticated Dance.
Long Beach hosts its 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace and Unity Parade and celebration beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Anahiem Street. The unity celebration follows the parade until 5 p.m. and will feature music from artists whose visions coincide with King’s voice for justice, peace and civil rights. The group Lakeside are the special guest performers. Other highlights include a teen entertainment stage, a health pavilion, international food as well as Dreamland, an entire area dedicated to youth including carnival rides, as well as arts and craft booths and entertainment.
Gardena will host its King parade beginning at 10 a.m. at Van Ness and Marine avenues. Participants will march to 132nd St. and Van Ness Avenue at Rowley Park, where a festival will feature bands and the winner of the city’s essay contest.
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science hosts its 15th annual Jr. White Coach Ceremony to recognize the achievements of K-12 students enrolled in the school’s pipeline medical training program. The event takes place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine, 1601 E. 120t St., Los Angeles.
A forum on Ferguson as well as an intergenerational dialog will be held beginning at 3 p.m. at the African American Cultural Center, 3018 W. 48th St., Los Angeles.
On Monday, Inglewood will host its annual parade/march beginning at 10 a.m. at Crozier Middle School, 120 W. Regent St. The route travels along Regent to Prairie and south to the Forum. A vendor festival follows complete with music, food trucks and a presentation by the winners of the city’s speech contest. The winners are second grader Avani McDowell of Highland Elementary; Cowan Elementary fifth grader Joshua Apparicio-Swain and Evan Hardin, an eighth grader at Monroe Middle School.
The 29th annual Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade, considered the “granddaddy” of the local celebrations, kicks off Monday at 9:30 a.m. with the 350-member strong LAUSD Honor band and can be seen at 11 a.m. on KABC Channel 7. The theme this year is “Love and Respect: Let It Begin With Me.”
The procession starts at Budlong Avenue and King Boulevard, travels west on Crenshaw Boulevard and then south to the end at Vernon Avenue. A festival follows the parade from 1 to 5 p.m. Council president Herb Wesson is the grand marshall and community activist and personal friend of Dr. King Gwen Green will be given a special lifetime achievement award and will ride in the parade. Among the other highlights are three to four equestrian units including one from actor Glen Turman’s Camp Gid D Up and the Compton Jr. Posse; bands from 11 high and middle schools including a group from Palm Springs; as well as groups representing communities from Brazil, Cambodia, China, Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean, Korea, Japan and Mexico.
The family of boxer Henry Armstrong will sponsor a boxing-ring shaped float featuring the first Black female referee and time keeper. Tree Man and Drought Woman, standing more than 10 feet tall and outfitted respectively in green and brown leaves, will entertain the audience as will celebrities including Tommy the Clown, L.A. Sparks Player Candace Wiggins, rapper Yo Yo, newscaster Christine Devine and television’s Judge Mablean.
The Royal Court consists of full-time students ages 17-26 years old including Queen Laisha Mondesire and princesses Jasmine Burgess, Kenisha Cattouse and Kadeisha Garcia. Each was selected based on an essay submitted, with the queen receiving a $1,000 scholarship and each princess winning $500.
A special acknowledgment will made for those who have been killed by police and for police officers killed in the line of duty.
SCLC concludes its King week activities with a 6 p.m. gala at the Sheraton Gateway., 6101 W. Century Blvd. Tickets are $200 and can be purchased online at www.sclc-sc.org or by calling (213) 268-4820 no later than Monday at noon.