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L.A. Parade Honors Martin Luther King, Jr. - 2002-01-22

The United States on Monday celebrated Martin Luther King Day, and in Los Angeles, hundreds-of-thousands of people lined the streets for a parade to honor the late civil rights leader. The annual event, called The Kingdom Day parade.

The parade featured marching bands, police motorcycle drill teams and riders on horseback, as well as thousands of other marchers - from a Korean-American martial arts team to Black and Hispanic high school students. They passed through some of the same streets rocked by race riots just ten years ago. The parade, now in its 17th year, stresses the theme of harmony of the races.

Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn was one participant. Mr. Hahn said, "I know Doctor Martin Luther King would be proud of the diversity we have today, that we're all pulling together. This is a great unifying event of the city of Los Angeles. I've been in this parade every year, except the first year, and I really enjoy seeing everybody come together around the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King."

The Kingdom Day parade was the brainchild of Larry Grant, a Los Angeles resident, who says thousands of volunteer workers make the parade possible. "As the founder and president of this event," he said, "I would like to thank the people of the state of California and the great city of Los Angeles, and all of the volunteers that have helped me for the past 17 years make this one of the largest events in this nation that honors Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday and national holiday."

The grand marshal of this year's parade was women's basketball star Lisa Leslie, an African-American who plays for the league champions, the LA Sparks, and was named her league's most valuable player.