SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Southern California celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday with a parade, festival and various service projects around Los Angeles County.
Early Friday morning, spectators for the Kingdom Day Parade began lining Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Western Avenue to Leimert Park, vying for the best seats before the parade kicked off at 10 a.m.
“I’m loving it,” Courtney Spicer, who was attending the parade for the first time, said. “I’m having a really great time, I’m glad we came.”
The theme of this year’s parade, “Equality For All Humanity, Our Next Step” was reflected throughout, from the performance of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s band to the countless dancers in brightly colored dresses weaving their way down the parade route.
But one group that was not officially part of the parade found its way into the route — accusing law enforcement of racial profiling and murder.
“Totally disrespectful,” Mary Bell, a spectator, said. “Martin Luther King was non-violent. We didn’t need that.”
Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were able to form a bicycle barricade to stop the group of protesters, who then peacefully left the parade route, leaving the revelers to honor the late civil rights activist.
“He made it right for blacks and whites to be treated fairly,” Lathan Miller, an 8-year-old spectator, said.
Following the parade, a festival was held at Leimert Park with food vendors and music until 5 p.m. to celebrate and honor King’s work and legacy.
But the parade was not the only event happening Monday, as volunteer organizations fanned out across the county in hopes of making a difference.
More than 500 volunteers worked on a record 20 projects at the Long Beach MLK Day of Service — now in its 10th year — painting a mural, organizing a clothing resource facility for needy community college students, placing stones in an alley in an effort to reduce flooding along with tending to community gardens.
And in Hollywood, more than 1,200 volunteers came out to sort and fold more than 30,000 items of clothing that will be donated to dozens of organizations to help those in need at nonprofit Big Sunday’s eighth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Clothing Collection and Community Breakfast.
“We are in very fraught times, but at Big Sunday, we keep finding that most people — of all ages, from all walks of life and … different political bents — want to work together to make our world a nicer place and celebrate what we share,” said David Levinson, Big Sunday’s founder and executive director.