Thousands of people lined the streets of South Los Angeles today for the 26th annual Kingdom Day Parade, themed "Working together, we can make the dream come true."
More than 3,000 participants, including marching bands, drill teams, dance groups and equestrian units, took part in Southern California's largest King Day observance.
The parade made its way along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Western Avenue to Crenshaw Boulevard, then south to Vernon Avenue, where a daylong festival will be held in Leimert Park.
"I think great things are happening," Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson told CBS2 at the parade. "People are beginning to understand that we're all the same. And that's what I think Dr. King's dream was all about."
Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Harbor Gateway, was the grand marshal.
"Sometimes people assume that the civil rights movement was just a movement for African-Americans when it was movement for all Americans," Furutani said prior to the parade.
"I'm really honored as an Asian Pacific Islander to be the grand marshal of such an important parade that deals with the rights and dreams of all people."
Furutani told City News Service parade organizers said they chose him because "of all my years of work in civil rights and public service."
Furutani was a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees before being elected to the Assembly in 2008.
Other dignitaries taking part in the parade were Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky, Assembly Speaker John Perez, Reps. Karen Bass and Maxine Waters, and City Council members Eric Garcetti, Janice Hahn, Bernard Parks, Jan Perry and Wesson.
Perez, D-Los Angeles, called the parade "an important event, especially in light of the economic pain millions of Californians are experiencing on a daily basis and in light of the terrible events in Tucson."
"Dr. King's life was ultimately devoted to ensuring that every person in this country, regardless of their skin color or background, has the same opportunities to succeed and live their American dream," Perez said.
"This event provides for us a moment of reflection, to give thanks for all the gains that we've made as a country and to rededicate ourselves to the lessons of his life and legacy."
Assemblyman Steve Bradford, D-Inglewood, told Channel 2 that the event and today's holiday should send a message for everyone to remember King's message.
"Live the dream. Not just today, every day," Bradford said. "Because that's what Dr. King's life was all about – giving back, social service, civil rights."
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