LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Martin Luther King Jr. Day was observed Monday with the 34th Kingdom Day Parade in South Los Angeles, multiple service projects, a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and an event at the Reseda Church of Christ.

Service projects were held throughout Los Angeles County to fulfill the goal set by Congress in 1994 to make the day a “day on, not a day off,” including at George Washington Carver Middle School in South Los Angeles and 16 sites in Long Beach.

An annual Memorial Mass honoring King’s life and mission was celebrated at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez celebrated the Mass.

“Reverend King’s words and witness speak to what is best in the human spirit and the spirit of America,” Gomez said in advance of the service. “He reminds us that beyond the color of our skin or the countries where we come from, we are all brothers and sisters, children of one heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to live in peace.”

The Valley Intercommunity Council’s 21st annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration had the theme “Life’s Most Persistent and Urgent Question Is What Are You Doing For Others.” Realtor Mel Wilson was the keynote speaker.

The Pacoima Mass Choir of California, Reseda Church of Christ’s male ensemble and the Melodious Gospel Group will perform at the 6 p.m. event at the Reseda Church of Christ, which will be preceded by a meet and greet at 5:30 p.m.

The California African American Museum in Exposition Park held a daylong Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, featuring a keynote address by the Rev. Eddie Anderson of McCarty Memorial Christian Church in South Los Angeles.

The celebration also included family activities; the playing of a recording of a speech King gave in Los Angeles and a group discussion about how his words relate to the present; a panel discussion on inter-generational activism in the 21st century; young activists delivering excerpts of speeches King gave; and a children’s march around Exposition Park’s Rose Garden, inspired by the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served as grand marshal of the Kingdom Day Parade, which attracted thousands of people to the streets of South Los Angeles.

“Being an African American, my father instilled a lot of values and talked a lot about Dr. Martin Luther King,” Roberts said. “Being in Los Angeles, from Southern California, going to UCLA, managing the Dodgers – it was a no-brainer and it’s a huge honor.”

President Donald Trump recounted passage of the First Step Act that changed federal sentencing laws and encouraged federal prisoners to use vocational and educational training or faith-based programs to help reduce the recidivism rate and recent record-low unemployment rates for African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and Americans without a high school degree in his proclamation declaring Monday Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We have … made great strides as a nation, but we acknowledge that more work must be done for, in the words of Dr. King, ‘justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,'” Trump said. “United as one American family, we will not rest – and we will never be satisfied – until the promise of this great nation is accessible to each American in each
new generation.

King was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality with non-violence.

“More than half a century after Dr. King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, our nation is mindful of its past, and we look forward to the future with unwavering optimism, inspired by the legacy of Dr. King and informed by his wisdom and vision,” the president said. “May the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and the efforts we have made to fully effectuate his dream, remind us that faith and love unite us together as one great American family.”

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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