Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Celebration
The City of Long Beach is pleased to announce the return of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Celebration set to take place Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Central Long Beach.
The 2024 festivities will begin with the parade kickoff at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Anaheim Street, followed by the park celebration from noon to 5 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park (1950 Lemon Ave.). The park celebration will include a main stage with performances, a health and wellness area, a youth area, food and merchandise vendors, and information booths.
The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Celebration has become a longstanding tradition that celebrates the diverse community of Central Long Beach. This festival serves to honor and keep alive the many values of Dr. King through arts, remembrance and meaningful perspectives.
36th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade & Celebration
Parade Information and Street Closures
The event will commence at 10 a.m. with a celebratory parade led by 2024 Grand Marshals. The parade will step off at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Anaheim Street, then travel northbound up Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and conclude at 19th Street. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue will be closed from 7th Street to Anaheim Street beginning at 5 a.m. on Jan. 13 and will close from Anaheim Street to 19th Street at 9 a.m. to accommodate the parade route and staging areas. Vehicles will be allowed to cross intermittently at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. All roads are expected to reopen by 1 p.m.
Community Park Celebration
Following the parade is the community park celebration from noon to 5 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park (1950 Lemon Ave.). Hosted by the Sixth District Council Office. Entry to the park celebration is free.
The entertainment lineup is as follows, with intermittent sets by DJ Count throughout the day:
- 12:15 – 12:45 p.m. - Gravity Dance Company
- 1:15 to 2 p.m. – The Block PARTY Band
- 2:30 to 3:40 p.m. – DW3
- 4 to 5 p.m. – Virgil Gibson
Media inquiries about the parade may be directed to Tasha Day, Manager, Special Events and Filming, at 562.570.5313 or Tasha.Day@longbeach.gov. Media inquiries regarding the community park celebration may be directed to the Sixth District Council Office at District6@longbeach.gov or (562) 570-4420. Parade and vendor inquiries may be directed to LBMLKEvent@gmail.com.
The City is looking for friendly, eager and enthusiastic volunteers to help support the parade and festival. Volunteers must be 18 years or older and responsibilities include standing at barricades to ensure the safety and enjoyment of parade participants and spectators, staffing the information booth, trash collection, and general assistance with event set up and break down.
Residents, local businesses, nonprofit organizations and community groups interested in volunteering in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Celebration can find more information and sign up for volunteer shifts via the online registration link.
Councilmember Al Austin II has been dedicated to serving Long Beach's Eighth District since 2012. As a longtime workforce advocate, he supports a better way of life for working families and actively contributes to good governance through leadership roles as a Labor official and City Councilmember. His record of service reflects a commitment to creating good jobs, improving infrastructure, neighborhood parks, and small businesses, all while fostering cultural enrichment within the community.
Chan and Mark Hopson
In 1995, Chan Hopson co-founded the Khmer Parents Association (KPA) with her husband, Mark Hopson, and has served as its volunteer Executive Director for 30 years. KPA is instrumental in empowering low socio-economic status and at-risk children and youth to pursue a higher education. It provides a Tutoring After-School program, career guidance, internship opportunities with local organizations and professionals, civic engagement and community volunteer service in many activities During the pandemic Chan provided food to more than 4,000 people, provided backpacks, gift cards for school supplies and provided online tutoring to help students, and partnered with Mental Health professionals to help parents learn coping skills to deal with stress and depression.
Tonya R. Martin
Forever a proud public servant for over 25 years, Tonya, who is originally from Alabama, moved to Los Angeles in late 1990’s to make a difference. She was raised just outside of Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights Uprise. As a young child, this experience planted intrusive actions of human hatred in her mind but a strong sense of hope in her heart for equality. She has volunteered and worked throughout the City of Long Beach and Los Angeles County’s civic sector, as well as nationwide and globally in areas inclusive to the empowerment of the community, youth, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, racial, and equality advocacy. Tonya’s many accomplishments include her service to the Long Beach Pride in which she was recently elected as the President. She has also served for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Leadership Long Beach, Australia Marriage Equality, New York Equality, Long Beach Dias de la Muertos Parade, and Alabama Gay Pride. She is the founder of Long Beach Festival Gay Latino and uniTy- a Transgender Awareness support event. In addition, she was honored in 2022 as an inductee into Harvey Milk Promenade Park Equality Plaza for her advocacy of LGBTQ+ rights and issues. Whenever anyone asks Mrs. Martin, “how do you do all that you do?” She always replies, “It’s not what I do, it’s what is done through me, Amen”.
Griselda Suarez believes that the arts are essential in empowering others to express their thoughts. Throughout her career, she has created programming and training dedicated to facilitating transformation and creating agency for her communities. In 2016, she became the Executive Director of the Arts Council for Long Beach and served as an advisor for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative council, representing the fourth supervisorial district. She has taught at Cal State Long Beach for the Chicano and Latino Studies department since 2006. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Aunt Lute Press, Seal Press, NCOC Press, Acentos Literary Review, Finishing Line Press, and Sinister Wisdom Journal. She currently serves on the City of Long Beach Economic Development Commission.
Peace Maker Honorees
Keith Lilly has been a resident of Long Beach for over six decades, having moved there in 1961. Keith's parents, Carroll Francis Lilly and Ella Mary Lilly, gave birth to him and his siblings, which included Andre, Michael, Tyrone, Ronald Craig, and Christopher. Ella Mary Lilly was Keith's mother. Keith's academic journey began at Garfield Elementary School in Long Beach before shifting to John Muir Elementary School by fourth grade. Following this, he attended William Logan Stephens Jr High before finally settling in at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach. Keith ventured forth to Long Beach City College, where the rivers of history and recreation flowed through his heart. In time, his ardor led him to the halls of California State University, Long Beach State, where he pursued the majesty of Black Studies and the thrill of Recreation. During his college years, Keith worked as a dietitian assistant at St. Mary's Medical Center. Following this, in 1976, he began his tenure with Parks and Recreation of Long Beach, initially as a custodial helper at John Muir Elementary School. Over time, he rose to become a supervisor at Silverado Park and El Dorado Park. Keith is a highly talented individual who has achieved a lot in his life. In addition to excelling in his role at Parks and Recreation, he was also recruited by the Long Beach Unified School District in 1976 to work as a teacher, staff assistant, and coach for basketball, football, and track. And he did not disappoint! With a plethora of awards and championships, one might wonder how Keith managed to store them all. However, he didn't rest on his laurels. In 1980, he brought his talents to the City of Carson Parks and Recreation, where he earned the reputation of being an exceptional team director, inspiring admiration and respect among his colleagues. Keith, the proprietor of a maintenance service for over two decades, has made significant contributions to the community. Among his accomplishments are his leadership efforts in supporting children at Silverado Park, Dr. Martin Luther King Park, and Long Beach Polytechnic High School. Keith has also worked alongside public officials, such as Congresswoman Anita McDonald, Councilwoman Laura Richardson, Councilman Dee Andrews, and Councilwoman Dr. Suely Saro.
Karen Reside is President of the Long Beach Gray Panthers group, a chapter of the nationwide nonprofit that educates and advocates for older adults. For over 35 years, Karen has worked with nonprofits as staff and a volunteer. She founded the nonprofit Cultural Alliance of Long Beach, where she assisted in creating over 16 nonprofits and taught over 45 free grant writing classes for the community. Karen has been reappointed to the Los Angeles County Commission on Aging for a two-year term in 2023.
Tito Rodriguez has made a significant impact on thousands of children and families in Long Beach and the Los Angeles area through his nonprofit, Local Hearts Foundation. Providing gifts, clothing, and food, the foundation organizes events such as an annual backpack drive, a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, and an Easter-themed pancakes and Easter baskets giveaway. Tito, who faced hardship during his own childhood, understands the struggles of disadvantaged families. His father's suicide on Christmas Eve when he was just six left his mother to raise five children on the income she made as a street vendor. Recognizing the importance of education, Tito, who became a successful music producer, started rewarding kids with straight A's from low-income families with bikes, skateboards, shoes and more. Dressed in a Santa costume, he handed out presents from the trunk of his car, earning the affectionate nickname "Hood Santa" from the kids.
Susana Sngiem, MSW
Susana Sngiem has served as United Cambodian Community’s (UCC’s) executive director for over nine years. Susana was born and raised in Long Beach by Khmer refugee parents. She earned her Master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. Susana has over 20 years of nonprofit leadership. She is committed to equitable development in the Cambodian community in Long Beach. She has led and partnered in the Cambodia Town Thrives Collaborative, Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative, and Language Access Coalition. She currently serves as the Chair Midtown Business and Property Owners Association and is a commission member of City of Long Beach’s Homeless Services Advisory Committee.