LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The 26th annual Kingdom Day Parade kicked off in South Los Angeles Monday morning.

More than 3,000 participants, including marching bands, drill teams, dance groups and equestrian units, took part in Southern California’s largest King Day observance.

The parade began shortly after 10 a.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue in South Los Angeles. It moved west on King Boulevard and Western Avenue, heading to Crenshaw Boulevard south to Vernon Avenue, where it concluded with a festival in Leimert Park.

Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Harbor Gateway, served as the grand marshal.

“Sometimes people assume that the civil rights movement was just a movement for African-Americans when it was movement for all Americans,” Furutani said.

“I’m really honored as an Asian Pacific Islander to be the grand marshal of such an important parade that deals with the rights and dreams of all people.”

Furutani was a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees before being elected to the Assembly in 2008.

Other dignitaries who took part in the parade include: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky, Assembly Speaker John Perez, Reps. Karen Bass and Maxine Waters, and City Council members Eric Garcetti, Janice Hahn, Bernard Parks, Jan Perry and Herb Wesson.

Perez, D-Los Angeles, called the parade “an important event, especially in light of the economic pain millions of Californians are experiencing on daily basis and in light of the terrible events in Tucson.”

“Dr. King’s life was ultimately devoted to ensuring that every person in this country, regardless of their skin color or background, has the same opportunities to succeed and live their American dream,” Perez said.

“This event provides for us a moment of reflection, to give thanks for all the gains that we’ve made as a country and to rededicate ourselves to the lessons of his life and legacy.”

Work was also being done on gardens at several Los Angeles Unified School District campuses Monday to fulfill the goal of making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a day of service.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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