To honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the City of Long Beach is hosting its 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr Parade and Celebration this coming Saturday, January 14th. The parade will kickoff at Anaheim St. and Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. at 10 am. A celebration at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park (1950 Lemon Ave.) will follow from noon-5pm. The event will feature multicultural performances, food and drinks, an area for kids, a health and wellness area, and more.
Through this celebration, we honor and uphold the values of Dr. King Jr. His work on racial equality and ending segregation in the United States is a large part of the reason that we have wonderful multicultural cities like Long Beach today. In the big picture, segregation wasn’t all that long ago. Some of you reading this article may have even been alive for it. It officially ended in 1964, but it took years for the courts to begin enforcing it, and we are still seeing the effects of it today.
When I (Stephanie from ExploreLong Beach) was growing up, I thought that treating everyone the same was enough. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized it isn’t. In addition to celebrating leaders in racial equality – continuing to educate yourself is a must. Stand up when you see injustice, read the stories of Black authors, and listen to and amplify Black voices.
So where do I, a white lady, fit into all of this? My fiancé is mixed, and so are our kids. Throughout our kids lives, I’ve made a point to not only continue to educate myself about race and racism, but to keep an ongoing dialogue about it with our kids. As a family, we have attended Black Lives Matter protests, we read books about racism and inclusion, and we have regular discussions about fairness and equality.
My fiancé said his mom used to take him to multicultural meet ups when he was young, and he never understood what the point was until he grew up and had kids of his own. In hindsight, he realizes that he was one of a handful of Black or mixed kids growing up in Hermosa Beach. Were it not for those meet-ups, he may not have even seen other mixed kids like him. We are fortunate to have a lot more diversity today in Long Beach, but that doesn’t mean that we can stop learning and advocating.
We want our kids to know that they are unique and strong and beautiful, but we also want to educate them about the challenges that Black people have historically faced. Because it’s part of who they are and also to avoid these conversations would be doing a disservice to all Black people.
We talk to them in an age appropriate way about race and racism, and that conversation evolves every year they get older. What started out as “Black people were not always treated fairly by white people or by the police” has evolved into discussions about segregation laws and learning about leaders like Dr. King Jr.
I know this article started out about a parade – and the parade is incredible – and I highly recommend attending! But I would also like to leave everyone with a few resources for furthering your education. These are some of my fiancé’s favorite resources for adults and some for the kiddos too:
- The African American Cultural Center of Long Beach: This is a museum that celebrates the heritage and culture of the Black/African American community.
- Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Forging the Future. This is a Black History Month Event taking place at the Long Beach Convention Center on February 10th.
- Black History Month Resource Guide for educators and families.
- “I am Brown.” A children’s book about pride and belonging.
- “Black is a Rainbow Color.” A children’s book about the history and pride of being Black.
- Outschool. This is a website where you can find online classes for kids of all ages. We signed our girls up for one about Black history and the teacher was fun and engaging. Classes are usually one time, 30-60 minutes, but the girls got a lot of value from it. You can find classes by going to the website and searching “Black History.”
Join Leadership Long Beach as we Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr for a day of service. 2023
For the 13th year, Leadership Long Beach and their partners will bring together alumni and volunteers from across Long Beach for the National Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Over the years, thousands of volunteers have completed dozens of community service projects, growing the Long Beach MLK Day of Service into the largest MLK service day in LA County.
The Day starts with a Kick-Off!
Our day begins at MLK Park, 1950 Lemon Ave, Long Beach, CA 90806 starting at 8:00 AM for the kick-off event to come together as a community and celebrate the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Enjoy pancakes, learn about our event’s impact, and bring your friends! Visit LeadershipLB.org for more info and to sign up for a service project.