Arts & Entertainment

Sun shines on Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade

Compton High School was among several schools to have marching bands in the Kingdom Day parade.
Compton High School was among several schools to have marching bands in the Kingdom Day parade.
Molly Peterson/KPCC

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South Los Angeles celebrated the 26th annual Kingdom Day parade Monday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thousands of people lined the boulevard named for the fallen civil rights leader.

Among the politicians making traditional appearances at the event was an exuberant LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also celebrated the weather.

“A happy King Day! What a beautiful day, huh? Last year was pouring rain, remember that? And I walked all the way,” said Villaraigosa.

High school marching bands from Crenshaw, Compton and Inglewood honored Dr. King with precision and passion.

Conrad Hutchinson III has led the Inglewood Marching Band for more than a quarter century. The flashy, show-style of marching that Hutchinson teaches comes from his father, who directed the Grambling State University marching band in Louisiana for more than 37 years and now has a performing arts center named after him at the university.

Photos from the parade.

Along the route, Charles Ray and his friend Andre Joseph greeted everybody who passed by — in the parade or on the sidewalk.

“It's kinda sad, some young people don't know who Martin Luther King is. They just know that it's a holiday,” said Ray, who used to march in the parade, too, performing Dr. King's speech.

“In spite of all our difficulties and frustrations at the moment. I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream,” Ray recited. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold this truth to be self evident that all men are created equal.’”

New voices also turned out for the show. Long Beach resident Chante Craig walked the parade route for the first time with a group representing people who are black and gay. She said their aim is to fight homophobia.

“Dr. King's the civil rights movement didn't happen overnight,” said Craig. “So we feel like our gay rights movement is the next civil rights issue. We have women's rights, and we have people of Jewish descent working for their rights, so now it's just our turn to stand up and fight for our rights and what's God given to us.”

Like a lot of her fellow parade-goers, Craig said she believes slow but steady progress is making King's dream a reality.