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COVID-19 Testing Sites Replace MLK Day Events In Los Angeles Area, Unity Walk, Virtual Events Still Happening

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - Los Angeles' premier annual event to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- the Kingdom Day Parade in South L.A. -- has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still a number of MLK- related events going on Monday.

In celebration of what would be King's 95th birthday, volunteers across the Southland gathered to give back to their communities, both in assisting at COVID-19 rapid testing sites and getting their vaccinations, in the spirit of caring for others instilled in King's legacy.

Organizers reminded Angelenos on Monday that while the day held in honor Martin Luther King Jr. is one of celebration, it is also a Day of Service.

Dr. Jerry Abraham, one of Los Angeles' leaders in increasing the vaccination rates across the county, who works as Director of Vaccines with Kedren Health, noted on Monday that the best way to exemplify the legacy left behind by King, is to provide medical access to everyone, especially by reducing barriers caused by lack of transportation. "We need people to know, nobody has to die or suffer with COVID anymore," he told CBS reporters on Monday afternoon.

At 9 a.m., the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE-CA) Kingdom Day Parade Committee will sponsor a free in-car COVID-19 rapid-testing event in lieu of hosting the annual parade, which has been canceled for a second straight year. The committee has 500 rapid tests, and will be accepting walk-ups as well as drivers in cars on West 43rd Street off Degnan Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The First AME Church of Los Angeles will host "The Hope Clinic," a special vaccine event to commemorate MLK Day and provide people an opportunity to receive doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses at 9 a.m. The church is located at 2270 S. Harvard Blvd.

At 10 a.m., Big Sunday will host its 10th annual MLK Day "New Clothing Collection and Community Breakfast." The Hollywood-area block party will feature the collection, assembly and donation of 2,022 new cold-weather clothing kits. It takes place at 6111 Melrose Ave.

The Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice and other groups will host an MLK Day "Caravan for Social Justice," to "reflect the true spirit of Dr. King." The gathering begins at 10 a.m., and the caravan starts at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Western Avenue and MLK Boulevard.

At 10:30 a.m., LAUSD second-grader Isabella Blue, the Unite L.A. Foundation and other groups will host a Martin Luther King Jr. "Unity Skate and Walk" event, featuring music, giveaways, a birthday cake, walk-up COVID-19 vaccines and testing and more. It takes place at Metro Rosa Parks Station, 11611 Willowbrook Ave.

Volunteers from Infiniti Health were on the scene to administer free vaccinations to the community. They use mobile care units to administer care to under-resourced communities. Lisa Cherquaoui who works with Infiniti Health echoed the thought shared by Dr. Abraham, noting the concerns caused by lack of transportation.

"I would say lack of transportation and lack of education," she told CBS reporters regarding the lack of COVID-19 vaccination and testing across those specific regions across the Southland, "In addition to that we provide that education that's needed."

Community Organized Relief Effort and the Sutro Avenue- Southeast Leimert Block Club will host a COVID-19 vaccination and testing pop-up event. It takes place starting at 11 a.m. at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Event-goers got tested and vaccinated at the pop-up center with one thing in mind - staying healthy and being diligent in the face of COVID-19, and in turn caring about the people around them.

As case numbers continued to surge across the Southland on Monday, event planners kept that same train of thought in mind by opting to postpone major events in remembrance of Dr. King, deciding instead to aide in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

Some demographics have been heavily impacted over the last few years, specifically the Black and Latino communities - an inspiring factor in the switch-up of events on Monday.

"The fact of the matter is: our people are suffering more than anybody else," said Michael Lawson, President and CEO of Los Angeles Urban League. "We have to be diligent and we have to be cognizant of the importance of us taking care of each other."

Another attendee of the event, 10-year old Alyssa Andon, was getting tested after someone in her family started to display symptoms of the virus. She told CBS reporters, "There are a lot of kids who have gotten COVID." Andon is one of the tens of thousands of students across the Southland who returned to school over recent weeks, something health experts indicate could be a leading factor in the drastic surge in cases countywide.

In response to this consistently increasing numbers, other event-goers were receiving their vaccines, not just for their own personal health, but for the greater good. Shane Robinson and his brother were two of those people, "There's older people living in our household. I just want to be considerate of them and keep the family safe," he said.

The California African American Museum will commemorate King with a series of virtual events, including a King family story time with the Los Angeles Public Library, a King speech study group and a performance by members of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles starting at 11 a.m. RSVP here.

At 7 p.m., the city of Carson will present its annual tribute to King with an evening celebration featuring songs, dance and inspirational words. The event will be live-streamed here.

Non-profit organization Big Sunday's scheduled 10 a.m. New Clothing Collection and Community Breakfast event has been postponed due to weather. A new date and time have not yet been set.

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