‘Can’t Stop, Wont’ Stop, Going to Promised Land’
On Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, one of the most notable celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday and his unique life contributions to America and the world, will be celebrated again in the heart of South Central Los Angeles on his birthday. This year will constitute the 39th Annual Kingdom Day Parade (aka MLK or King Day Parade). The theme this year is “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Going To The Promised Land”. The parade will be televised live on ABC from 11:00 am-1 pm.
The Kingdom Day Parade has been broadcasted live for more than 30 years, and has grown from a small neighborhood event to an iconic mass celebration with over 200,000 on site attendees. In addition to on-site attendees, the parade reaches a viewing audience of over 2.4 million on Disney/ABC 7.
The mission of the Kingdom Day Parade in LA, as expressed by the Parade’s first Grand Marshall, Stevie Wonder, is different from all other parades. The annual event was born out of a curative response to America’s ongoing struggle since its beginning, to make a simple majority democracy rule to rise to its calling to achieve true equality for all Americans regardless of their status by gender, age, social or economic status, ancestry, and or so-called race.
In keeping with the parade’s overall mission of uplifting local youth and promoting their future success, this year’s edition will include a Parade King and Queen rather than just a Queen as in the past. This element of the Parade will still be dedicated to the development of future youth leadership involving enthusiastic, broad-scale participation of community organizations, schools, churches, and small, medium, and large businesses with the common goal of continuing the peaceful revolution ignited by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, (Jan. 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) mere 39 years.
The Kingdom Day Parade was founded in 1985 by the late Larry Grant, a retired military officer and local banker in San Diego. Several years later he relocated this parade to South Los Angeles where he was joined by Celes King III and Adrian Dove, who were then serving as CORE-CA’s Chairman and President respectively of CORE-CA. This Parade’s transfer of location from San Diego to Los Angeles also coincided with the street renaming of Martin Luther King Boulevard from its previous name Santa Barbara Ave.
In the wake of the Rodney King LAPD beating on March 3,1991, and the murder of Black youth Latasha Harlins by inner-city Korean store owner Soon Ja Du on March 16,1991 who had erroneously accused Latasha of shoplifting, which sparked serious tensions between the Korean and Black communities of Los Angeles amid the 1992 riots after the acquittal of the four LAPD officers in the Rodney King’s case and then Judge Joyce A. Karlins’s probation sentence of Soon Ja Du for the murder of Latasha Harlins. It was in the midst of this perilously threatening climate of hostility between the Korean and Black communities that The Kingdom Day Parade leaders Grant, King, and Dove felt it was important to do whatever was necessary to bring peace back to the city which would have been of utmost priority for Dr.King were he alive. They reached out and brought into their inner circle of the parade a Korean Community peacemaker named Grand Master Tong Suk Chun.