Around January 18th 2021, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I was watching TV. My wife tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Why aren’t you making a YouTube video about MLK Day?” That was her code for I’m ready to watch my show now.
But in that moment, I realized that there are things in South Los Angeles that commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy everyday–right here in my own community. This week we’re exploring 5 MLK monuments in and around South Los Angeles that you can explore all year long.
#1 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital
More likely than not, you’ve heard of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital for better than worse. And worse being how inundated its facility and doctors have been with COVID.
Believe it or not, this is the first and only community hospital to service South Los Angeles. The ground was broken in 1968 and the soon-to-be full service hospital was named after Martin Luther King Jr. shortly after his assassination–in an unverified report. The original community hospital opened its doors in 1972. And it re-opened again in 2015.
#2 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
If you’ve been through the coliseum, watched the Kingdom Day parade, or taken the long way to the Crenshaw mall, you’ve seen this major East and West thoroughfare. The majority of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard spans between Central Avenue from the East and Obama Boulevard to the West.
This Boulevard wasn’t always named after Martin Luther King, Jr. It was originally named Santa Barbara Boulevard. But that changed in January 1983 when Celes King III and a group of prominent civil rights activists brought a name change request to the city council for the third time. The street was named in King’s honor Ten Months before Ronald Reagan declared Martin Luther King Jr. a federal holiday.
#3 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Grove
At Kenneth Hahn Recreational Park, you’ll find the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Grove, which has a stone pillar that overlooks groves of trees. According to the LA County Parks – “The tree grove features an obelisk–or stone pillar00 that evokes memories of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. The obelisk is inscribed with some of the civil rights leader’s most inspiring words.”
#4 Martin Luther King Jr. Shopping Center
I’ll be honest. I really only added this one to get a nice even five in this post. Built circa 1981, this shopping center is in the Watts neighborhood and holds the only major-chain grocery store in Watts–A Food4Less.
#5 Martin Luther King Jr. Monument in Compton
While not in South LA, the City of Compton holds a distinguished monument in commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. It sits right at the civic center, where the courthouse is in Compton. But there’s not much I can tell you on this design.