On Monday, January 19, 2015, the City of Inglewood hosted its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration. This year’s memorial of Dr. King’s legacy was by far the largest and most significant celebration in the City’s history, with the King Day Festival receiving well over 4000 attendees.
The theme for this year’s celebration was titled, “Advancing and Fulfilling The Dream: THE TIME IS NOW!!”
The day of celebration began with a musical selection by the incredibly talented First Church of Compton.
CNN News Anchor Michaela Pereira congratulated the city on celebrating its 32nd Annual MLK Celebration via video recording. CBS Sportcaster and on-air personality Jim Hill commended the city on its efforts to preserve the legacy of Dr. King. He stated, “I have a very close association and affiliation with this day. It was just a few years ago, I was honored to be the Grand Marshall in the parade. I’ve been fortunate enough to do some really cool things in my career, but being in that parade, and being here today, is at the top of the list.”
Part of how the city celebrates and honors Dr. King through a district-wide speech contest. This year’s theme was, “An injustice to one of us, is an injustice to all of us.” The district received speech submissions from elementary, middle and high school students, with one finalist selected from each group who performed for the packed house.
From the early elementary category, Avani McDowell of Highland Elementary School performed her animated piece and moved the audience with an illustrious demonstration of character and vision. “Power up America, power up on you and me! I can be a small part of building a better America. I can do extraordinary things! Make the injustice, the justice for all!”
The elementary speech contest winner, Joshua Apparicio-Swain of Cowan Elementary School started off by powerful ly stating, “We all know that Dr. Martin Luther King fought diligently for economic and racial equality for the less fortunate and the oppressed.” He charged the crowd with his spot on impersonation of Dr. King as he went on to say, “Change begins in the mind of man and woman. We must begin by treating people as human beings, we must vaue life and appreciate our differences.”
Chris “The Hammer” Smith and Toni Malone provided soulful musical performances followed by middle school speech contest winner Evan Hardin of Monroe Middle School. “We live in a world where what affects one, affects us all. The sooner we realize that, as a human race, we must stick together, the sooner we can stop all injustice around the world.”
IUSD high school students performed a gamut of spoken word pieces centered around social and political injustice. Raul Marrero performed a piece titled “Earthquakes,” and alluded to the idea that “If vibrations can break boulders and devastate lives, then our words can split open minds and alter the geographical shape of its content.” Poetry duo Tashi and Camille of Get Lit: Words Unite Literacy Program performed their piece with powerful verses that stated, “My history book has fed me false facts and so have my teachers. Lesson plans lie and fail to answer my question, why am I not welcome in certain neighborhoods.”
After performances from the shining stars in our community, there wasn’t one body left in their seat as the audience erupted in celebration of our immensely talented youth.
The program culminated with presentations to dignitaries and honorees, and was immediately followed by the city’s first symbolic march since 2009. Over 700 participants marched from Crozier Middle School to the Fabulous Forum. which hosted the King Day Family Festival along with KJLH and other sponsors.
The King Day Festival was packed with well over 4000 people making it the largest King Day celebration in Inglewood History. Chariman of the King Day Planning Committee, Henry Brown said, “The vision was to do something different. Last year I spoke with the mayor, and he told me if I got the committee together, he would make it happen.”
Mayor Butts added, “Today in particular for Inglewood, this is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the citizens and council, to bring ourselves to the point where we could make Dr. King proud to say that 'what I did, was not in vain,' and that this is a city that is actually living the American Dream.”
Great music by the likes of The Reel Band, Darius McCreary, Mali Nicole, and others; fun, food, and great people made the City’s 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration the largest this city has ever seen.
When asked about the festivities of the day, Alicia Pepperton of Culver City said, “I have to represent for Dr. Martin Luther King. He has made a way for everybody, as far as Obama being president, and I’m just happy to be here.” Mike and Kimberly of Inglewood added, “One thing that I’m happy to see is that there is all positivity. There’s no negativity, you have great music, activities for kids, its something we haven’t always seen in our community, so I’m glad to be here to enjoy myself.”
2015 is starting off with a bang, and rightfully so, because we are both advancing and fulfilling the dream. Our time is now.