Two hours before the 31st annual Los Angeles Martin Luther King Jr. parade began Monday, the expectations among spectators were palpable. Children, adults, families and individuals busily staked out their spots in hopes of finding just the right vantage point behind the barricades that separated spectators from parade participants. People at the intersection of Crenshaw and King boulevards happily danced to the soundtrack provided by a live broadcast provided radio station KDAY. For Debbie Strayhand, a retired city worker, it was a chance to reminisce about the memories of her parents who lived around the corner from Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Ga. She remembers King’s sisters dating one of her uncles and Daddy King preaching at her grandfather’s funeral. Strayhand remembers that her mother, a teacher at the time, dared not join the NAACP directly for fear of losing her job. Consquently she had to get someone to join for her in their name. And her parents recalled that King and other young “ministers” at the time scrambling to be the first to “preach” at the funerals of area’s deceased animals.
Among this year’s participating bands were Garfield High School Jr. ROTC, the Crenshaw High School Band, Drill Team and Choir, Westchester High School’s drum and drill teams, Centennial and and drill team, Washinton High School Band, the Fred Price Schools drum and cheer squads, the Wilder’s Prep Charter School marching team as well as the LAUSD All City Honor Marching Band. There were also fan dancers representing the Korean community, and a colorful contigent from Trinadad that was the main reason one 36-year-old Caribbean-born native came to the event for the first time.
The parade was also punctuated by a brief protest by activists who laid down in the street in front of a selection of L.A. Sheriff Deputies and California Highway Patrol officers, to make the point that Black lives matter. But rather than stopping their forward motion, the officers adrointly flowed around the obstacles without hesitation. The crowd showed their appreciatiion with applause.
All photos courtesy of Jason Lewis.