Environment, Parks, Libraries

39 Bells: Los Angeles Remembers
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

From Pasadena to Pomona and Leimert Park to San Pedro, bells rang in communities across Los Angeles County to solemnly commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The MLK 50 Bell Toll, part of a nationwide observance, inspired strong emotions that spanned generations.

Conceived by the National Civil Rights Museum, the MLK 50 Bell Toll inspired places of worship, college campuses, and institutions around the world to have their bells toll 39 times to mark the number of years that the civil rights leader lived. The simultaneous ringing began at the moment of Dr. King’s death, which was 4:01 PST.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas worked with the Board of Supervisors to coordinate the local tributes, saying, “In just 39 years, Dr. King accomplished more than most accomplish in a lifetime.”

Among those who participated in the MLK 50 Bell Toll are:

  • All Saints Church in Pasadena;
  • African American Museum of Beginnings in Pomona;
  • Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles;
  • Hollywood United Methodist Church in Hollywood;
  • Holy Assembly Church of God in Christ in Pasadena;
  • Korean Bell of Friendship in San Pedro;
  • Loyola Marymount University; and
  • Transfiguration Catholic Church in Leimert Park.

A Mountaintop Monument for Peace and Justice

Fifty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hundreds of community members dedicated a Memorial Tree Grove in his honor at the highest point of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Baldwin Hills, overlooking downtown Los Angeles.

Rev. James Lawson and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, with Shine Mawusi Drummers, lead a processional toward the dedication ceremony. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors.

“Today, we meet Dr. King at the mountaintop,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “I believe once you experience the Memorial Tree Grove here at the very top of Hahn Park, you will find few other spaces that so peacefully and so exquisitely facilitate reflection in his honor.”

He added, “There is no other individual who  has inspired us, challenged us, and motivated us to create a world filled with more civility, equality and dignity.”

Rev. James Lawson, who was with Dr. King on the day of his death, delivered the keynote speech at the dedication ceremony. Noting the lofty perch of the memorial for the civil rights icon, he said, “We’re trying to set a high mark, and our standards ought to be high, because to become a people of self governance, where the dignity of every human being is recognized, is a lofty and noble vision that requires our finest minds, our finest spirits, if it is to be accomplished.”

Rev. James Lawson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 15,000-sq. ft. tree grove features an obelisk that evokes memories of the site where Dr. King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The obelisk and the path leading up to it are inscribed with some of the civil rights icon’s most inspiring words.

With sweeping vistas of downtown Los Angeles, the tree grove will be a highlight of the 13-mile Park to Playa trail now under construction, slated to connect the beach to the Baldwin Hills by 2020.

Several of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most inspiring quotes are displayed in the tree grove named after him in the Baldwin Hills. Photo by Mayra /Countywide Communications.

The dedication ceremony, held to culminate the Season for Nonviolence, featured the Xipe Totec Aztec Dancers, World Stage Executive Director Dwight Trible, Shine Mawusi Drummers, and Now Art LA Flag Troupe.

Community leaders included City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and leaders of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy and Mujeres de la Tierra; LA County Departments of Public Works, and Parks and Recreation; LA City Department of Water and Power; and the Empowerment Congress.

“Our department is honored that our urban jewel, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, was chosen to showcase a beautiful memorial overlooking the city of Los Angeles that commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” LA Department of Parks and Recreation Director John Wicker said.

Mujeres de la Tierra founder Irma Munoz added, “This magnificent memorial reflects the spirit and inspiration of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Tree Grove at the highest point of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. Photo by Mayra Vasquez/Countywide Communications

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors adjourned in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s death.

The Supervisor, who will travel to Memphis, Tennessee, to participate in activities commemorating the assassination, also plans to dedicate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Tree Grove at the highest point of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area on Saturday, March 31.

15,000-sq. ft. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Tree Grove at the highest point of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area featuring an obelisk that evokes memories of the 1963 March on Washington.

The 15,000-sq. ft. tree grove features an obelisk that evokes memories of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and is inscribed with some of the civil rights leaders’ most inspiring words. With sweeping vistas of downtown Los Angeles, the hilltop location will be an ideal space for peaceful reflection, a highlight of the 13-mile Park to Playa trail currently under construction, slated to connect the beach to the Baldwin Hills by 2020.

The Supervisor also worked with the Board to coordinate MLK 50 Bell Toll events throughout Los Angeles County on April 4, the date of the assassination.

Led by the National Civil Rights Museum, the MLK 50 Bell Toll asks places of worship, college campuses and institutions around the world to have their bells toll 39 times to mark the number of years that the civil rights leader lived, and to pay homage to his legacy. Locally, the solemn ringing will begin at 4:01 p.m., the moment of Dr. King’s death.

Among those confirmed to participate in the MLK 50 Bell Toll in the County’s Supervisorial districts are:

  • First District: The San Gabriel Valley NAACP in West Covina, the NAACP in Pomona Valley, and the African American Museum of Beginnings in Pomona.
  • Second District: Transfiguration Church in Leimert Park.
  • Third District: Hollywood United Methodist Church in Hollywood.
  • Fourth District: The Korean Bell of Friendship in San Pedro.
  • Fifth District: Holy Assembly Church of God and All Saints Church in Pasadena.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas proclaims adjourns in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on March 27, 2018. Photo by David Franco / Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

 

Kingdom Day Parade

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Mayor Eric Garcetti with other Kingdom Day Parade celebrants. All photos by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

Thousands of people lined the streets of South Los Angeles to celebrate the life and legacy of the legendary civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 33rd Annual Kingdom Day parade.

Billed as the oldest and largest parade of its kind, it included more than 150 floats, bands, equestrian units and other groups that traveled three miles on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard before culminating in community festivities at Leimert Park.

This year’s theme, When They Go Low, We Go High, is a famous quote from former First Lady Michelle Obama during the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer for California Senator Kamala Harris, who served as the parade’s grand marshal. Oscar winner Natalie Portman walked alongside her, wearing a black shirt that read “Time’s Up,” a rallying cry for the movement against sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry.

This year marks Dr. King’s  89th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his death. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said at the parade that he strives to see Dr. King’s dream fulfilled, and is working to address  poverty and homelessness; fight for jobs and voting rights; and assert that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

“We’re going to end homelessness in the city and county of Los Angeles, because that’s Dr. King’s dream, to push for every person to have dignity and work,” the Supervisor said.

A Day at the Marina

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles Watts Willowbrook Clubhouse with Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Life Guards, and the Department of Beaches and Harbors. All photos by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors.

It was a fun-filled day at the Marina, as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles Watts Willowbrook Clubhouse joined Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Life Guards, and the Department of Beaches and Harbors for the first ever Second District Day in the Marina featuring ocean safety, sail boating, paddling, and kayaking.

The District Day in the Marina is a new program by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors bringing youth ages 8-12 to experience a programmed day of water and beach activities in Marina Del Rey. Chairman Ridley-Thomas took to the sand as he led the children in a day of fun in the sun.

“Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro LA-Watts Willowbrook Clubhouse is in the house…or should I say in the sand!” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said to begin the day. “We encourage you and your families to return as often as you’d like to enjoy the beach and some of the other things the Marina has to offer, including concerts in the park, fishing docks, and the South Bay Bike Trail.”

Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Ocean Lifeguards offered instruction and education to the 25 children in attendance including several first-time beach goers.

“We hope to help instill in these young people a love for the coast and our marine environment at an early stage in their lives,” said Carol Baker of the County of Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors.