Volunteer activities, including refurbishing schools, assisting veterans and planting trees, are planned for Monday in Los Angeles County to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while celebrations will be held in Long Beach and Pasadena.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Secretary of Commerce John Bryson are set to be among more than 1,000 volunteers building a new school garden, painting educational murals and working at other tasks to refurbish Los Feliz Elementary School.
Other planned participants in the project that will be held from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. include musician Sly Stone and actor, singer, minister and former football player Rosey Grier.
A toiletries drive for veterans will be conducted in connection with the event, organized by L.A. Works, a nonprofit volunteer action center.
Volunteers are asked to consider bringing shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, disposable razors, shaving cream, deodorant and soap, which will be donated to the Veterans Administration, which will distribute them to area veterans.
At Los Angeles Academy Middle School in South Los Angeles volunteers will paint educational murals, create playground games and activities, build benches and engage in planting from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Lunch is provided.
The project is organized by City Year Los Angeles, whose members serve as tutors, mentors and service providers to various communities in the city.
Tree planting will be held at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Long Beach from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by the “Achieve the Dream” celebration from 12:30-4:30 p.m., which will include a community mural project, an African drum circle, Ballet Folklorico and a performance by the Khmer Dance Academy.
A blood drive will be conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center beginning at 8 a.m.
Other volunteering opportunities are listed on the website of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day National Day of Service, www.mlk.org.
“The best way for a person to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day is by answering Dr. King’s call to serve,” Villaraigosa told City News Service. “Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day for all Angelenos and Americans to remember his message that we are all in this together and to give back to their community and help their fellow human beings.
“On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we remember someone who paid the ultimate price for the worthiest of causes. But this day is about more than the past. It is about more than remembering. It is about the present and future. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is about doing and doing the right thing.”
Pasadena’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Jackie Robinson Park will be held from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and feature music, speakers and dancing.
The California African American Museum in Exposition Park will serve slices of birthday “Cake for King” beginning at 1 p.m. The documentary
“King: Man of Peace in a Time of War” will be shown at the museum, along with a reading of ”My Brother Martin,” written by Christine King Farris, King’s elder sister.
The museum’s exhibits include “King in California II,” a collection of photographs taken during his trips to California which will be on display through Feb. 28.
Visitors to the Museum of Tolerance near Beverly Hills will have the opportunity to participate in a special “Chain of Inspiration” from 1-4 p.m.,
creating an art project linking them to the legacy of King and other civil rights figures.
The documentary “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Solider of the Civil Rights Movement,” which follows 85-year-old James Armstrong as he celebrates Barack Obama’s election as president will be shown at the museum at 1 p.m., followed by a discussion with Darren Armstrong, one of his grandsons.
Both NBA games at Staples Center will include tributes to King.
A Los Angeles Clippers player will address fans and a King video will be shown at their 12:30 p.m. game against the New Jersey Nets. Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes will address fans before the national anthem at their 7:30 p.m. game against the Dallas Mavericks. Videos of Laker players explaining what Martin Luther King Jr. Day means to them and how King impacted their lives will be shown.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first celebrated as a federal holiday in 1986 under a law signed by then-President Ronald Reagan. King and George Washington are the only Americans with federal holidays celebrating their births.
King’s activism in marches and speeches, most famously the “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963, helped foster the passage of civil rights laws and end segregation.
In 1964, at the age of 35, King became the youngest person up to that time to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., at the age of 39.