• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Kingdom Day Parade celebrates life of Martin Luther King Jr.

January 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Thousands lined the streets of South Los Angeles on Monday for the nation's largest commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the 27th annual Kingdom Day Parade.

The parade started at 11 a.m. at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Western Avenue, then headed west to Crenshaw Boulevard, turning south on Vernon Avenue. The parade ended at Leimert Park where a gospel festival was held.

The parade honors the legacy of the late civil rights leader, who would have been 83 this year. The theme of this year's parade was "The Dream Continues to Live and Grow."

Marching bands, drill teams, dance groups and equestrian units took part in the nation's oldest King-day celebration. There were also lots of food booths and fun things to do throughout the afternoon and evening at the park.

"This community comes together in a way that it doesn't do all year long to say thank you Dr. King for your legacy, thank you for your dream," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles).

There were 30 marching groups and 20 floats - among them, the "Occupy King's Dream" float, honoring his work to end poverty.

"We still have a housing issue, we still have jobs issues," said activist Jamie King. "We still have issues with education, we still have issues with foreclosures, we still have homelessness."

ABC7'S Marc Brown was one of several Eyewitness News personalities who participated in the parade. ABC7 anchors Leslie Sykes and Michelle Tuzee hosted the parade coverage, with reporters Leo Stallworth and Danny Romero on the parade route talking to the many excited spectators.

"It's kind of a renewal every year. It's good for the soul," Brown said.

Parade founder Larry Grant kicked off the parade with his annual Kingdom Day Parade Breakfast at the USC Radisson Hotel. A lot of the parade's invited dignitaries, grand marshals and many local political leaders were in attendance.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was one of the grand marshals of the event, and LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck was a celebrity grand marshal. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also participated in the parade, waving to thousands of Angelenos along the parade route.

This year's parade marks the 43rd anniversary of King's assassination.

See photos of the Kingdom Day Parade.