The recent decision by the Riverside School Board to name a new high school after Martin Luther King Jr. can be seen as evidence that the civil rights leader's legacy is still alive nearly 30 years after his assassination.
King, born 69 years ago today, is honored with a national holiday on Monday, and Southern California is playing its part all weekend with parades, concerts, museum events and more. Here's a sampling:
Rosa Parks, who made history 43 years ago when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala., will be honored today at USC. The university's 17th annual celebration of Martin Luther King Day, which carries the theme "One Person Can Make a Change," begins at noon. Parks will speak and receive a commemorative plaque at the ceremony. There will also be music and dance performances.
The event will conclude with the laying of a flower wreath on the Martin Luther King Memorial on the USC campus. The ceremony will be at the Hahn Plaza fountain in the University Park campus center. USC is bounded by Vermont Avenue, Jefferson and Exposition boulevards and Figueroa Street. Free. (213) 740-3636.
Also at USC, the DiverSCity Programs, a project of the Division of Student Affairs, will present National Days of Dialogue on Race Relations. This is a nationally coordinated effort to have local communities take part in discussions to increase understanding among racial and ethnic groups.
Today's dialogue, sponsored by the United Ministry and Civic & Community Relations and moderated by facilitators Temille Porter and David Crandall of USC, will be held at the University Religious Center, Room 103. 1:30 p.m. Free.
Friday's dialogue will be at the Hillel Jewish Center and will be moderated by representatives from the L.A. city attorney's office. 3 p.m. 3300 S. Hoover St. (213) 740-6775.
Beginning today at 11 a.m., the California African-American Museum will screen "The Meeting," (1989), Jeff Stetson's drama portraying an imagined meeting between King and Malcolm X. The movie, which premiered on KCET-TV, explores what might have happened to the civil rights movement had they joined forces. Running time: 70 minutes. Today at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Saturday and Monday at noon and 2 p.m.; Feb. 8 at 1 and 3 p.m. 600 Exposition Blvd. (213) 744-2084. Free.
Friday, Two Roads Theatre presents its concert version of "King, the Man," Nyna Shannon Andersen's musical based on the life of the civil rights leader. 8 p.m. Also Saturdays at 8 p.m. Ends Jan. 24. 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. $12. (818) 997-4459.
Another production based on King's life, "Dreamers," opens Jan. 29 at the Inglewood Playhouse and tells the story of an African American family inspired to fulfill its dreams after King's death. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. Ends March 7. Edward Vincent Jr. Park, 700 Warren Lane. $12 at the door. (310) 412-5451.
Saturday, the Los Angeles Police Department hosts the sixth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Watts Community Image Awards honoring Chief Bernard Parks. 5 p.m. Grant AME Church, 10435 S. Central Ave. Free. (213) 295-8582.
Long Beach will hold its 10th annual Birthday Unity Parade and Celebration Saturday, starting with a parade at 10:30 a.m. that begins at Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and 10th Street. A celebration with a children's carnival, food, merchandise, musical entertainment and information booths will commence immediately after the parade in King Park, 1950 Lemon Ave. Free. (562) 570-6816.
Kids can learn about King's message at the Los Angeles Children's Museum on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, when storyteller Marilyn McConnie presents "From Darkness to Light: Stories About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." Noon and 2 p.m. All day Saturday, Sunday and Monday, children can lend their hands to the "I Have a Dream Mural" in the museum's Recycle Art Studio. 310 N. Main St., downtown. Museum hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and special holiday hours this Monday only, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Children 2 and older and adults, $5. (213) 687-8800.
Pasadena's Kidspace Museum will also have special holiday hours Monday. In an ongoing workshop, "What Does Freedom Mean to You?," children can learn about what flags mean and construct their own freedom flags. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adults and children ages 2 and over, $5; seniors, $3.50; children 1 to 2, $2.50; children under 1, free. 390 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. (626) 449-9144.
Sunday afternoon, USC hosts the 1998 Pan Hellenic Chorus 13th annual Commemorative Concert featuring the Alpha Kappa Alpha Chorus and the Delta Choralairs. 4 p.m. Bovard Auditorium, Childs Way and Trousdale Parkway, USC campus. Free. (310) 243-2463.