Peace activists from around L.A. marched in the Martin Luther King Day parade. Activists drew big applause from the multitudes of spectators whom showed the peace sign and joined in with chants of "Goodby Bush" and "Obama's in the house.
A 100-strong contingent of peace activists marched in today's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s parade. The peace marchers had groups from the Whittier and San Gabriel Valley Neighbors for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, and a group linking Dr. MLK Jr's quotes about justice with the Palestinian's struggle.
Orlando Terrazas from the Whittier Peace Vigil, had the microphone and sounded like a fire and brimstone gospel preacher as he continually urged the hundred thousand people stretched out along the route to show the peace sign, or handed people the microphone to do a "shout-out" for peace or for Obama. The response was uproarious, especially when Mr. Terrazas said "Obama's in the House".
A DJ had composed a CD that mixed recordings of Dr. MLK Jr.'s speaking out against the Vietnam war, and his The Time Has Come" mantra with a contagious dance beat that had parade viewers dancing along the 2.7 mile parade route. He pushed a flat cart with two large speakers powered by a car battery You could hear Marin Luther King's voice blast from the speakers as he intoned classic lines like: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".
The effect was magical: MLK's voice filling the air with moral greatness while a funky beat had people dancing and celebrating as Terrazas strutted and danced back and forth across the street to cajole people, including the LAPD, into showing the peace sign. Yes, both the people and even some cops made the peace sign. Terrazas also improvised "Goodby Bush" lyrics as he danced, and wailed bluesy, down-home harmonica to the delight of the crowd.
The parade was an endurance test for marchers whom broiled under the mid-day Los Angeles winter sun as they headed west on Martin Luther King Blvd. from Western then turned south on Crenshaw and walked to Leimert Park. The biggest crowds were on Crenshaw, but there were also many thousands lined up along the 1.7 miles of MLK Blvd.
Before seeing and hearing the peace contingent walk by with their banners and signs, and Terraza preach the antiwar blues while Dr. King's anti-war voice flew out of the speakers, the predominately African American crowd had to sit through lots of corporate and commercial parade entries, as well as groups of junior navy sailors, ROTC, and national guard soldiers wearing desert camouflage uniforms.
The peace marchers had created a block long anti-war protest within the traditional marching bands, drill teams and military groups.
The crowd screamed and yelled for Obama and showed the peace sign to the marchers. Antipathy for Bush was as strong as love for Obama. In response to Terraza's urging, many yelled " By by Bush." "Goodby Bush."
In the past there have not been many African Americans at anti-war marches in L.A., but the fervent response today at the parade shows that they are as pro-peace and anti-Bush as anybody in L.A. That may bode well for future protests.
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