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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

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MLK March for food and housing security, ceasefire in Gaza

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Layla Hernandez
People showing showing support to Palestine during MLK march

Hundreds of Southern California residents gathered at the crossroads of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue in a people’s march amid a particularly warm Jan. 15, gathered to oppose the war in the Middle East on the national holiday recognizing King’s birthday and his legacy.

Community members and advocates converged to oppose the U.S. involvement and funding of genocide in Occupied Palestine in lieu of domestic food and housing security, adequate education, and sufficient efforts made towards assisting vulnerable communities and ending homelessness.

The energetic mass of people began to move westbound down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard shortly after 3 p.m.

The sound of Dr. King’s voice, amplified by speakers, paraded down the boulevard in rhythmic tandem with the mass of footsteps and chants, the weight of the event a palpable force.

Residents from homes lining the street gathered at the edges of their doors or lawns to watch, and on occasion to extend support, as the crowd swept by.

Hosted just two days after the onset of Israeli aggression in Gaza reached 100 days, the Black Men Build LA Coalition met alongside dozens of local and national coalitions, advocacy groups, and non-profit organizations as a part of a continual effort to emphasize the true anti-capitalist and anti-war morale of Dr. King’s beliefs said to have been shamelessly white-washed and watered down throughout history, as shared by various organization representatives.

“We have to educate our people about who Dr. Martin Luther King is, the radical Martin Luther King,” shared Gloria Verdieu, author and representative with the San Diego Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all other political prisoners.

Verdieu’s voice continued to carry over the speakers as the growing crowd swelled the wide street, “We wanna say a promise to Dr. Martin Luther King, a man of peace, but also a man of conviction. This is our way of doing that.”

It was during the “Beyond Vietnam” speech, given on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City, that Dr. King presented a profound critique of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War while also presenting the complex interconnected societal evils King describes to be racism, war, and economic inequality.

Community leaders in attendance emphasized the importance of the revered speech as 24.3% of Los Angeles County were found to be food insecure by July 2022.

Mikey, an advocate with Black Men Build LA, stressed, “When Dr. King talks about the poor who are paying a double price, that’s the double price. Not only having your money funding a genocide but also not even having your basic needs being taken care of at home.”

The crowd parted ways with the decorated flatbed that had led the march upon approaching Africatown Village, a community central to the changing identity of Black Angelenos during the 1980s.

Attendants struggled to light candles for the vigil against the harsh winter wind, an LAPD helicopter circling above as the sun began to set.

Community members shared testimonies of those who have been martyred at the hands of the recognized societal evils, the long white candlesticks shrinking in size as stories were shared, several individuals describing feeling as though they were truly able to get to know the lives of those honored amid conversation amongst one another.

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About the Contributor
Layla Hernandez, Community Editor
Layla Hernandez is the community editor for Talon Marks covering the Greater Los Angeles area and its local culture. Outside of the newsroom, they can be found reading, writing, creating art, listening to music, or spending time with friends. Hernandez hopes to transfer in 2025 and travel writing about art and culture.
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