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Martin Luther King, Jr. Activities Aplenty in SoCal

Long Beach and L.A. parades, music, carnivals and games, and days of service in cities countywide honor the slain civil rights leader throughout the region.

Two Southern California parades will unfold Saturday  morning to mark the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday as well as other festivities throughout Southern California over the three-day weekend. From entertainment to speeches, and a day of service, many communities will offer events to honor the slain civil rights leader.

The 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace and Unity Parade Celebration in Long Beach will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the 28th annual Kingdom Day Parade will be held in South Los Angeles at 10:15 a.m. Saturday under the theme "His Dream Will Never Die."

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp will serve as celebrity grand marshal of L.A.'s parade, Southern California's largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue in South Los Angeles and concludes at Leimert Park. Several former Dodgers will also be participating in the parade, including Maury Wills, who will be riding in the Dodger fire truck.

That parade will also feature an effort by Donate Life California to promote organ and tissue donation in Los Angeles' black and multi-cultural communities. Transplant recipients, donor family members and living donors will be aboard a decorated double-decker bus themed "Get Onboard Donate Life."

The parade is traditionally held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day but is being held two days earlier to avoid conflict with Monday's inauguration of President Barack Obama for a second term.

Besides parades, Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances will also be held Saturday in Culver City, Inglewood, Long Beach, Santa Monica and West Hollywood.

Inglewood: Inglewood's 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration will be held at Crozier Middle School. A commemorative service starting at 9 a.m.—"Keeping the Dream Alive: Past and Future"—will feature performances by local choirs and community groups and speeches from the citywide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day speech contest.

Santa Monica: A family festival with entertainment and interactive games will begin at 11 a.m. Santa Monica's 28th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration will begin at 10 a.m. at the SGI Auditorium and feature a multi-ethnic interfaith program with readings, speakers, music, dance, singing and the MLK Education Awards. It will be followed at noon by a Community Involvement Fair at the nearby SGI Youth Center.

West Hollywood: The International House of Blues Foundation's annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, "Inspired by His Words, The Right Side of the World Revolution," will be held at the House of Blues-Sunset Strip in West Hollywood from 10-11:30 a.m. It will feature, music, dance and visual art presentations by students and a special guest speaker. The program will include performances by the Lula Washington African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Heart of Los Angeles Music Ensemble, Bancroft Middle School Performing Arts Dance Academy and the Kid City South Park Big Band.

Culver City: Culver City's eighth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will be held at the Culver City Senior Center from noon-5:30 p.m. Its theme is "Realizing the Dream, Living the Legacy." Civil rights activist James Lawson, who worked alongside King, will deliver the keynote address at 1 p.m. The celebration will also include speeches by winners of the Martin Luther King Jr. student speech contest at 2:10 p.m., a screening of the documentary "MLK: The Assassination Tapes," at 3 p.m. and a panel discussion at 3:50 p.m.

Do you know of other activities we should include? Tell us in comments below, please.

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