This year, MLK Day in L.A. Got a Obama Day Feeling

Dream Lammey (right), 15 years old, is having a good time with her friends at Leimert Park, in Los Angeles, at the MLK Day festivities on Monday

There are things you can’t make up. Meeting a 15 year-old girl called Dream at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Los Angeles  is one of them.

Dream Lammey came with two friends to this event described as the largest and oldest MLK parade in the country. Hard to tell for sure, but easy to believe. The show is happening in Leimert Park, a South Los Angeles neighborhood also known for being the place where Elizabeth Short’s dead body is found in Ellroy’s “Black Dahlia”.

dscf4090Despite this gloomy reference, Leimert Park is actually a pretty funky area, mostly populated by African-Americans. On Monday, many bands were playing after the parade, and drummers with percussions were filling lots of street corners.




Bridget Graham is the main singer in a band playing a mix of joyful reggae and African music. “Today I wanna say thank you Barack… thank you Obama”, she said emotionally  on stage, noticing that this time, honoring the pastor who fought for civil rights in the 1960’s had a special bitter-sweet taste. Of course, it has. Especially in the City of Angels, and in this part of the city. Not just because Barack Obama is leaving the White House, but because of who’s moving in.

“I’m not afraid for Black people’s rights, though”, she said. “I’d say, for everyone’s rights”.

Some wore T-shirts showing Obama’s face next to MLK’s. Others had signs promising they will fight fascism. But in the end, “it didn’t prevent the day to be a joyful celebration, that’s what we do as musicians, that’s our job”, said Bridget.

What’s going to be less joyful for the thousands of people who showed up at the event is the inauguration, in four days. In the meantime, I found this quote from Martin Luther King jr. and it surprised me how modern it sounded.

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

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