KABC TV to highlight previous years of MLK Parade
By Shirley Hawkins
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Although the usual crowds that line Martin Luther King Jr. and Crenshaw boulevards for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Kingdom Day parade will not be present Jan. 18, the parade organizers have still put together a program to honor the late civil rights icon.
King will be celebrated in a nearly three-hour virtual broadcast at 11 a.m. Jan. 18 on ABC Channel 7 featuring highlights of past parades.
Kingdom Day CEO Adrian Dove said that fans of the parade will still enjoy the show.
“We have been getting many calls about if the parade will be on the streets this year and our answer is ‘No,’” Dove said. “We will not contribute to a mass spreader of a virus that could kill thousands of our community. However, we will have a virtual presentation on Jan. 18 at the same time.
“We do not want the 250,000 spectators to come out on the streets this year and cause a superspreader event. We want fans to stay safe at home on ABC7.
Dove said he is proud that the highly anticipated Kingdom Day Parade has grown from its humble beginnings into the largest and longest-running birthday celebration for King in the nation.
The Kingdom Day Parade originated 36 years ago as a small neighborhood street celebration in South Los Angeles.
“The parade became a source of special pride to the community and it is a primary cultural highlight every year on the third Monday in January,” Dove said. “Throughout its history, it has remained loyal to the neighborhood as it travels down Martin Luther King Jr. and Crenshaw boulevards.”
King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. His message of nonviolence, equality and justice for African Americans galvanized the nation and exposed racial injustice and segregation. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
“This year, 2021 would have been Dr. King’s 92nd birthday,” Dove said.
He said that footage of past grand marshals will be aired during the show, including music legend Stevie Wonder and Kamala Harris, the recently elected vice president.
“The grand marshal in our first year was legendary musician Stevie Wonder who had just written his iconic song “Happy birthday, Dr. King” to promote King’s birthday as a national holiday,” saidDove, who has chosen Wonder to be the virtual honorary grand marshal this year.
Past grand marshals have included dancer and actress Debbie Allen, Marc Brown, news anchor at ABC 7; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez; City Councilmen Curren Price Jr. and Mark Ridley-Thomas and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Waving to spectators along the parade route in past years have been Reps. Karen Bass and Maxine Waters, the latter who is known to walk next to the car assigned to her in high heels while greeting the crowd.
“The parade also will feature past footage of dancing units from Korea, the Caribbean, Brazil and New Orleans,” said Dove, who is the president of the Congress Of Racial Equality of California (CORE-CA). He added that the theme of this year’s broadcast will be “Healing America.”
“I chose Healing America because of the pandemic and the role of our presenting sponsor, Blue Shield,” Dove said. “After the televised murder of George Floyd and the insurrection at the D.C. Capitol, the meaning was broadened to include healing America’s heart and soul.
“If Dr. King was here, he would be in the forefront of the nonviolent struggle to help America live up to its dream and promise.”
Dove said that the parade has grown tremendously each year and that spectators have traveled from other states and countries to enjoy the parade’s festivities.
Although Dove has run the parade for the past 10 years, he still pays homage to the founders Larry Grant and General Celeste King III.
Dove personally worked for King in 1965, registering Black voters in Georgia and the Carolinas during the new Voting Rights Act. He said he is tremendously honored to be able to highlight the life and legacy of the revered civil rights leader who preached peace and equality and became a world symbol for peace and justice.
“Dr. King’s life is based on equality for everybody and about using love as a weapon to achieve that goal,” Dove said. “This annual parade is our way of keeping Dr. King’s mission and completing his unfinished business on our way to the Promised Land.”
Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.