If you are a Los Angeles resident, then you were probably at the 32nd Annual Kingdom Day Parade on Monday, January 16. This parade still knows how to get people out of their seat, stand shoulder-to-shoulder in peace and have a good time together as a community.
The Kingdom Day Parade has always been a pride and joy of the South Los Angeles community. From elected officials, to radio stations, to high school marching bands, MLK Day brings everybody out to celebrate a man who was about change—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Originally founded by the late Larry E. Grant, who passed in 2012, the Kingdom Day parade was organized by Adrian Dove, chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality and an assembly of outstanding volunteers.
“In 1980, in the city of San Diego, Calif., I started the first annual Dr. Martin Luther King Kingdom Day Parade,” stated Grant, who served as chairman and president/CEO. He received permission to initiate the parade from Mrs. King and Christine King Farris, Dr. King’s sister. It was brought to Los Angeles in 1985, which will be its 32nd year in L.A. as a parade and national holiday.
The Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade is said to be the largest in the nation and as always, there was a huge crowd of parade-goers of all colors and ethnicity. For the past 14 years, the annual parade has ended in Leimert Park, where hundreds of residents spend the remainder of the day enjoying the Martin Luther King Festival. Crowds of residents enjoy multiple stages that range from gospel to R&B as a way of extending the festivities throughout the day.
Local residents also partake in one of the greatest cultural treasurers in South Los Angeles– which is the historic Leimert Park Village. Many engage in games, free health screenings, information from government agencies, vendors selling food and merchandise and music. Some of the local business owners shared their feelings about MLK Day.
“It means wonderful feelings, wonderful people, love—people coming together,” said Laura Hendrix, owner of Gallery Plus in Leimert Park about MLK Day.
“[It’s about] the future and moving on in a positive direction.”
“It should be a day of reflecting on the continued struggles we have as Americans in this country,” said James Fugate of Eso Won Books in Leimert Park.
“Dr. King was probably the greatest American to ever live and one who fought against the injustice, against the conditions that sometimes you have no control over that might consign you to a life of poverty…”
“[MLK Day] means we should be quietly reflecting—not so sure we should be having car shows… this is a day as a bookstore, we may not sell a single item related to Martin Luther King.
“That’s pretty sad.”
“MLK Day represents a day of unity for Black people,” said Queen Aminah of Queen Aminah’s Cultural Clothing in Leimert Park.”
“It’s a day that makes Black people happy to come together and be together.
“I wish we would focus on more than he had a dream and really study his speeches and lectures and know what he was talking about towards the end of his life.”
Tori Bailey is a community liaison and member of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, who like many, came to show her love and support for MLK Day. Along with Bailey for the afternoon were activists, Avril and Clifford Jacobs, who were visiting the U.S. for the first time from New Zealand. Both originally from Cape Town, South Africa, MLK Day carries a great responsibility for both having lived in and through apartheid. Bailey arranged for the married couple to walk in the Kingdom Day Parade, which was more than honor but a duty in both their eyes.
“We born into an oppressed state, a state of emergency,” said Avril. “We didn’t know anything different and so Martin Luther King was one of our heroes—someone that, if we were lucky, we would find the books that were banned.
“And of course, with people like Nelson Mandela, Steven Biko, as our heroes, we always looked for the Black role models.
For the past 39 years… it’s been a long, long walk to freedom but it’s been an absolutely amazing journey.”
“It took me back—memories of when we were involved the night in the ’76 uprising, it took me back to that,” said Clifford. “It just gave me that feeling of being home and doing what we did then.”
“We need to keep striving for unity, one of the dreams that Martin Luther King had, plus for us to work together, on one accord, indefinitely, for the greater good of all,” said Bailey.
“I came out here because I said ‘the man had a dream’,” said Michelle M., a local at the Kingdom Day Parade. “We have not seen that day yet because there is so much racism, hatred and discrimination that exists.
“The Black man needs to be freed, I’m waiting for that day, so I’m here because of his dream.”
“It’s so nice to see all these beautiful people who look like me and have joy in this day,” said local resident, Taya C. “I love this.”
“I was born back in those days when JFK was doing his thing,” said local resident, Jacquelyn F. “It’s a very important day to me, that’s why I came out every year.”
“[Martin Luther King, Jr] fought for us to join together as one as God spoke in the Bible,” said Antonio A. “It’s for each and every one of us to come out and enjoy.”