Long Beach to host annual MLK Day March

Hundreds turned out for last year’s march, which closely followed the route Martin Luther King Jr. walked during his visit to Long Beach in 1968.
Hundreds turned out for last year’s march, which closely followed the route Martin Luther King Jr. walked during his visit to Long Beach in 1968.
Sue Grieco/Herald

Long Beach is set to host the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day March, preceded by the second annual ceremony at City Hall, on Jan. 15, which would have been Dr. King's 89th birthday.  

Beginning at 10 a.m. on the sixth floor of City Hall, the city will honor the life and legacy of Dr. King. After, the commemorative march will step off from Laurelton Boulevard at 11:30 a.m. and run down W. Park Avenue.

The parade will end at the MLK Center, at 615 Riverside Blvd., where a commemorative program will be held at 12 p.m. under the theme “Reclaiming our Time.”

The theme, MLK Center Executive Director Lisa Hayes said, was inspired by a quote made popular by a viral Internet video of Congresswoman Maxine Waters speaking at a House Financial Services Committee meeting in August.

“From it, millions learned to not allow others to waste your time, to not wait for others to give you options, and to take your destiny into your own hands,” Hayes said. “In the spirit of MLK, to acknowledge and live the dream is also meaning we must chart our own course to make things happen. That starts with reclaiming our time.”

The program will feature keynote speaker Assemblyman Michael Blake, who Hayes described as “a dynamic personality with strong commitments to people as a public servant and advocate for human rights.”

A pre-planning committee consisting of about 15 people worked to map out the events, Hayes said, while about 50 volunteers assisted with march planning, decorating, food service, entertainment, program, hospitality and security planning.

“Many marches have taken place since King visited our city in the late ’60s,” Hayes said. “Since being signed into law as a holiday in 1983, the march has occurred yearly to our current location at 615 Riverside Blvd. Each year, we march the same route as leaders in our community walked with King when he visited Long Beach.”

The march is open to everyone, and will feature a number of local groups and organizations who share the same ideals as Dr. King.

“As usual, we look forward to representation from all walks of life as the embodiments of MLK’s words and mission,” Hayes said.

This year, in lieu of a single grand marshal, Hayes said the MLK Center will recognize the city’s sanitation workers for the work they perform as an integral part of the city.

“This is our premier event of the year,” Hayes said. “We make every effort to put in our best to make a great event for the community. It is our hope that the event is a reminder of Dr. King’s words, that we should come together inclusively to move forward. Despite our various neighborhoods, we are still one community.”