Though students nationwide welcome the reprieve from schoolwork that comes on the third Monday in January, the day stands for much more than just a break from school. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is dedicated to commemorating the vision of an equal America held by Martin Luther King Jr. and the strides he made in the 1960s toward achieving a society where black citizens received equal treatment.
During his lifetime, MLK was honored many times, most notably as Time’s Man of the Year in 1963 after he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. He also became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Following his assassination, MLK was immortalized through his followers’ memories and commemorations. Twenty years later, a national holiday was created in his honor. Today, his achievements are recognized throughout the world.
To honor the man, his work and his legacy, there are several events taking place in Los Angeles this four-day weekend.
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade is set to take place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19. This free annual festival runs from MLK Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue throughout the city, ending on Vernon Avenue. The event will feature parades, live music and food.
Another local celebration, “Inspired By His Words,” is being held in MLK’s honor on Jan. 19 from 10 – 11:30 a.m. The event features music, dance and spoken word performances, along with displays of artwork inspired by the late activist. The free event will feature performances by the Lula Washington African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Heart of Los Angeles Music Ensemble, Bancroft Middle Schools’ Performing Arts Dance Academy and the Kid City South Park Big Band. The International House of Blues Foundation partnered with students and community members to make this event possible, which will take place at the House of Blues Sunset Strip (8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood).
For a more hands-on experience, consider volunteering at Belmont High School on Monday, Jan. 21. In honor of MLK, volunteers will spend a few hours painting educational murals, inspirational quotes and college logos at a high-needs school to make it a more interactive and engaging place for students to learn. Registration starts at 8:45 a.m. at Belmont High School (1575 W. 2nd St.), and will go until approximately 2 p.m. — free lunch will be provided.
MLK made an impact as a key leader of the civil rights movement who believed fervently in the efficacy of nonviolent protest. Through his incredible leadership abilities and unerring devotion to his cause through nonviolent protest, thousands of black Americans and other minorities alike came to believe in MLK’s ideas and were inspired to fight for them alongside him in the ’60s.
Many would say his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963, embodies what he stood for.
And as illustrated by the many events taking place in Los Angeles to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend, his words still resonate with listeners spanning generations who continue to build on that dream today.