Kingdom Day Parade returns Jan. 16 after two years

By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Thousands of spectators are expected to line the streets of South Los Angeles Jan. 16  when the Kingdom Day Parade returns to its normal setting after a two-year absence due to the coronavuris pandemic.

The parade honors the birthday, life and legacy of renowned civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who would have turned 93 years old this year.

The parade attracts spectators from all over Southern California. It will begin at Western Avenue  and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at 10 a.m. and will complete its 2 ½-mile route at the intersection of King and Vernon Avenue.

KABC7 will broadcast the parade from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with host Leslie Sykes.

The local parade is considered the largest birthday celebration for King in the nation. 

“Our theme for this year’s parade is derived from a statement from President Abraham Lincoln, who declared that ‘America is the last, best hope of the world for democracy,’ said Adrian Dove, chairman of the Kingdom Day Parade and co-chair of the Congress of Racial Equality. “It was a statement that Lincoln made … just before his assassination.

“Martin Luther King amended that statement 100 years later when he said, ‘We are fighting to make America the last, best hope of the world for democracy.’”

Serving as celebrity host at this year’s parade is award-winning actress and producer Issa Rae, creator of the “Insecure” series.

“And our grand marshal this year will be outstanding lawyer George Fatheree III, who along with county officials and attorneys worked to secure the return of Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce,” Dove said.

“The Bruces, a Black couple, bought property in Manhattan Beach in 1912 to build a beach resort catering to Black residents, but was one of several owned by Black landowners that were seized by Manhattan Beach authorities in the 1920s after white residents complained of their presence.

“The city of Manhattan Beach seized the property in 1924 claiming eminent domain to build a park,” Dove. added.

Last July, Los Angeles County returned the property to the Bruce family nearly a century after it had been taken through eminent domain. 

This week it was learned the family was selling the property back to the county for $20 million.

Dove said he hopes this year’s parade will help heal the city of Los Angeles and promote unity. He said he was disturbed by the anti-Black comments captured at a meeting in October 2021, when former City Council President Nury Martinez and Latino council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León joined Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera in making racist remarks.

Dove said that the council member’s comments did nothing but bring shame to Los Angeles. 

“We want  stronger bridges to be forged in the future between Blacks, Latinos, Asian, Jewish and Native Americans,” he said.

To further foster togetherness, Dove has invited “Ballet folklorico de Los Angeles and the master horseman Charro, a horse and equestrian expert from East L.A., to appear in this year’s parade.

Also appearing will be many political dignitaries led by new Mayor Karen Bass, City Councilman Curren Price Jr., County Supervisors Holly Mitchell, Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, former Rep. Diane Watson, state senator Steven Bradford,  executive director of the Los Angeles Civil Rights and Human Rights Equity Department Capri Maddox, new U.S. Rep Sydney Kamlager Dove, Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer, City Councilwoman Heather Hutt and Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore. 

“We will have equestrian units participating as well as drill teams, high school bands, an award winning USC band and the USC Black dance troupe as well as all of the major high school bands including the LAUSD All City Honor Band,” Dove said. “Spectators who love horses will get a chance to see equestrian groups such as the Buffalo Soldiers, the Urban Saddles, the Elite Riters and the Equine Advisory Council.

“We have also invited international dance troupes from Korea, Mexico and elsewhere around the world to participate in the parade.” 

 

Also marching and waving at the crowd will be major sports clubs, a number of Black fraternities and sororities including the Alpha Phi Alphas, the Deltas, the Sigmas, the Divine 9, Prince Hall Masons, the Shriners, Black Greek organizations, nonprofit organizations and several churches. A variety of TV stations and  Black-owned radio stations also will be attending.

Although Dove is officially the Kingdom Day Parade organizer, he has not forgotten the parade’s historic roots and the founders that made the parade a reality.

“The Kingdom Day Parade originated 36 years ago as a small neighborhood street celebration in South Los Angeles and it was founded by Larry Grant with help from Celeste King,” Dove said.

Dove said the parade will be even more accessible this year due to the newly built Crenshaw/LAX K Line.

“For the first time in the parade’s history, people from all over L.A. will be able to ride the K line to the parade,” he said. “There will be two subway stations open along the parade route that includes the MLK station at King and and Crenshaw Boulevard and the Leimert Park station at Crenshaw and Vernon Avenue.”

Dove worked for King in 1965, registering Black voters in Alabama and South Carolina during voter registration drives. He said he is tremendously honored to continue to highlight the life and legacy of the civil rights leader who preached peace and equality and became a world symbol for justice. 

“Dr. King’s life is based on equality for everybody and about using love as a weapon to achieve that goal,” he said. “This annual parade is our way of trying to keep Dr. King’s legacy alive.”

 

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