Lead Story West Edition

Events, days of service planned to honor King’s birthday

LOS ANGELES — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered at a variety of events here over the next several days, culminating with the annual Kingdom Day Parade Jan. 18.

King, a pioneer of the civil rights movement, would have been 87 Jan. 15, and the nation has observed his birthday on the third Monday in January since 1986.

Cities from Gardena to Culver City are holding events in King’s honor and residents can view theatrical productions and documentaries, paint murals and donate clothes, and then kick back and propose a toast to the icon that started out with a dream.

The Kingdom Day Parade, themed “Our Work is Not Yet Done,” begins at 11 a.m., Jan. 18 at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue and ends at Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Avenue. The parade proceeds west on King Boulevard to Crenshaw and then heads south to Vernon, disbanding near Leimert Park.

The California chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality is co-sponsoring the parade along with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Southern California.

For those who can’t attend the parade, it will be broadcast on ABC 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Information: (844) 454-6432

The SCLC, which was co-founded by King, is staging several other events in his honor.

On Jan. 15, the organization is sponsoring the production of an original stage play, “Martin: Duty Calls,” at 7 p.m. at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ Theatre, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd.

The play illustrates the history of King life in activism, starting from his support of Rosa Parks’ bus boycott in 1955 to his death in 1968.

The production was written by Roy Parker, directed by David Wendell Boykins and produced by Story Teller Productions and Davehouse Productions. It will be its only Los Angeles showing.

After the show, the audience can take part in a discussion about King’s successes and challenges, as well as the price he paid for answering the call of duty.

Information: www.martin-dutycalls.com.

On Jan. 16, the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles will give a free concert, “A Celebration of the Life of Martin Luther King Jr.,” at 7:30 p.m. at Holman United Methodist Church, 3320 W. Adams Blvd.

The orchestra seeks to transform the lives and minds of inner-city youth through music education. It consists of about sixty middle, high school and college students, primarily of African-American descent.

The conductor, Charles Dickerson III, composed a piece, called  “I Have a Dream,” that was performed at the 2011 unveiling ceremony for the King Statue on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The SCLC-SC wraps up its festivities after the parade with its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Awards and Benefit Gala at 5 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, 6101 W. Century Blvd. This year’s theme is “Bending the Arc and Breaking Barriers.”

The Legacy Awards recognize those who promote equality and justice in the spirit of King. This year’s honorees include Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences; DeVon Franklin, best-selling author and president of Franklin Entertainment, and Ken Maxey, the director of external affairs for the California region at Comcast.

Actor William Allen Young of the CBS drama “Code Black” will serve as master of ceremonies.

Many organizations are holding a day of community service to honor King.

City Year Americorps members and students from Augustus Hawkins High School, 825 W 60th St., will gather on campus from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 18 to paint murals with inspiring themes around the campus.

The City Year Americorps members serve schools in the South L.A., Watts, Boyle Heights and Koreatown neighborhoods and provide individual support to students who face the greatest risks of dropping out.

Information: Malina Brown at (213) 596-5903.

City Council President Herb Wesson and City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson are co-sponsoring a MLK Festival and Freedom Fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Leimert Park Village, located at Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Avenue. The festival features a variety of free performances as well as health and employment information.

The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and Holman United Methodist Church are co-sponsoring a free community event Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the mall, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Volunteers will provide free immigration and landlord-tenant legal services, health, dental and vision screenings, HIV/AIDS testing and employment services.

Attorneys will be on hand to answer questions and medical providers can screen for hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes as well as for vision and dental issues.

Counselors certified with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Black AIDS Crisis Taskforce, will administer the HIV tests confidentially, with results available the same day.

For those seeking help with employment, the California Employment Development Department will pre-screen and interview pre-registered applicants for available jobs. Register online at info@adayon.org.

Participants can snack on fruits and vegetables provided by Trader’s Joe’s at no cost. Younger guests can enjoy games and activities in the children’s corner.

Information: http://www.adayon.org or email info@adayon.org

Inglewood residents can partake in a daylong celebration of King, complete with a commemorative program, a symbolic civil rights march and a King Fest carnival event Jan. 18.

Festivities begin at 9 a.m., at The Tabernacle, 321 N. Eucalyptus Ave, under the banner “Dream with a Vision. Live with a Purpose.” The day kicks off with gospel choir performances and speeches from the winners of the citywide Martin Luther King Jr. Day essay contest. The speakers represent four grade categories: early elementary (K-2); elementary (3-5); middle school (6-8); and high school (9-12) grade levels.

KJLH radio personality Kevin Nash will serve as the master of ceremonies, and Althea Moses, Olympic gold medalist in track and field, and actress Laya Haynes, the voice of Disney’s “Doc” McStuffins will serve as grand marshals.  

Information: (310) 412-8750 or visit the city’s website at www.cityofinglewood.org.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Committee of Gardena is holding its 32nd annual King Day parade Jan. 16. It will start at 10 a.m. on the corner of Van Ness and Marine avenues. Omarosa Manigault, a reality television personality, business executive and minister,will appear.The Giuliano family, the owner of Giuliano’s Deli, will serve as community grand marshal.

A short stage presentation and special recognitions will follow the parade.

Another part of the celebration is a youth night program at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Nakaoka Community Center, 1670 W. 162nd St. The event is free to the public and will feature local youth talent and the presentation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Essay contest winners.

Information: (310) 217-9537

Culver City is hosting its annual celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan.16 at the Culver City Senior Center, 4095 Overland Ave.

The event is free to the public, and includes a schedule of speakers and performances. Some of the highlights include an impersonation of King by actor Gerald Rivers, at noon, and a film screening of “Dare Not Walk Alone,” (2006) directed by Jeremy Dean from 2:30 to 3:50 p.m. The film is a documentary of the civil rights movement and its aftermath in St. Augustine, Florida, where the NAACP and SCLC staged protests. In January 2009, it was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for best documentary.

Information: (310) 253-6675.

West Hollywood is holding its annual Day of Service in honor of King from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 23. Volunteers will gather at West Hollywood Elementary School, 970 N. Hammond St., to perform various landscaping, clean-up, painting and other beautification.

All tasks include physical labor and volunteers are asked to work a full six-hour shift. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old to participate and they will receive a commemorative T-shirt and lunch. Space is limited so advanced registration is required.

To sign up, please email wehovcorps@gmail.com or call (323) 848-6885.

As another project, local volunteers with the city are collecting non-perishable food items that will go to the SOVA Food and Community Resource Program, which aims to fight hunger by providing free groceries and resources such as legal counseling and job search assistance.

Donations of new and used clothing and shoes will benefit the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center on Highland. Just stop by curbside at West Hollywood Elementary School between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and drop off your items in the donation area.

Information: email wehovcorps@gmail.com or call (323) 848-6885.