Hospital re-opens with new focus + New health program targets South LA seniors

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Hospital reopened with a new focus on using IT to better serve patients. (Intersections South LA)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Hospital reopened with a new focus on using IT to better serve patients. (Intersections South LA)

IT, culture helps reborn L.A. hospital shed ‘Killer King’ past: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Hospital re-opened last July after patient safety was called into question. The South LA hospital is now using IT to maximize resources in the medically under-served community.

New Preventive Health Program Helps South L.A. Seniors Get ‘HAPPI’: A community-based research project launched to help South LA seniors access preventative care. Healthcare officials hope the public will be better informed about the services they have access to, improving the community’s quality of life.

Crowds gather in Leimert Park for Kingdom Day Parade

Leimert Park Village leapt to life this Martin Luther King Jr. Day as families filled the sidewalks surrounding the intersection of Crenshaw and West Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards to watch the Kingdom Day Parade and join in festivities honoring the holiday’s namesake.

Marching bands and drill teams from Beckman, Crenshaw, and Inglewood High Schools, among others, filled the streets with bold, brassy music as Los Angeles City Council members waved to their constituents from slow-moving convertibles.

At the end of the parade route, booths had been set up selling everything from food to tote bags to King-inspired T-shirts.

Crenshaw High School freshman and marching band member Tierney Shellmyer relaxed in the shade under the awning of the Vision Theater. He said it was hot marching and playing in a heavy uniform, but he was glad to be able to be a part of the day’s events.

“It’s good to be in the band. We have fun,” Shellmyer added. “And once we got down here towards Crenshaw, that’s when we really started playing. There were a whole bunch of people and we thought, OK, now we gotta really play.”

Radio station KJLH set up a stage in Leimert Park where local singers performed gospel songs or music that reminded them of King.

During a break in the music, 8th District Councilmember Bernard Parks took the stage and introduced Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who had flown in from Washington for the weekend.

Waters noted that while there is plenty of cause for celebration, today’s holiday does have a more serious side.

“We don’t simply come out just to have a good time,” Waters said. “We come out to give recognition to the fact that he lived, and he died for us. He sacrificed for justice and peace, and so we’ve got to be about some serious business.”

For Waters, that first order of serious business back in Washington is making sure the health care reform bill is not repealed.

On the sidewalks, however, kids eating snow cones, clowns crafting balloon animals, and high school friends hugging after a successful parade performance made it hard to stay too serious for too long.

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Inglewood pays tribute to legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

imageBelieve. Achieve. Succeed.

This uplifting triad echoed through Inglewood, Calif., Saturday morning as hundreds of community members filled the Tabernacle of Faithful Central Bible Church to honor the accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.

The words composed the 28th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration theme, which also prompted the city’s annual student speech and art competitions.

“This was about the children and their understanding of assimilation and of Dr. King’s legacy,” said Inglewood Mayor Daniel K. Tabor, who moved to the city in 1966 as a sixth-grade student at Clyde Woodworth Elementary School. “The confidence they have is beyond awe-inspiring. They’re getting it from their instructors at school and from their parents who tell them that they can achieve what they set out to do.”

Monroe Middle School student John Cruz, one of the four speech competition winners who spoke in front of the church audience, displayed his self-assurance both on and off the stage.

“It felt good telling everyone what I feel about the dream of Martin Luther King [Jr.] because I hope one day I can turn it into a reality,” Cruz said. “Someday, I hope there will be a bigger crowd to hear. Really big.”

Student competition winners presented their speeches and art during the two-hour ceremony, which included performances by spoken-word artist Azure Antoinette, the Inglewood-based Parent Elementary School Choir and the Spirit of David Choir, which was a finalist in a national choir competition hosted by Verizon Communications, Inc., at Staples Center in October. KTLA Morning Show host Michaela Pereira served as mistress of ceremonies and actor Gbenga Akinnagbe served as grand marshal.

The annual celebration strikes a personal chord with Inglewood, as the city was one of the first in the nation to declare Martin Luther King Jr. Day a legal holiday, according to the City of Inglewood website. But due to recent budget cuts, an annual march to Hollywood Park following the church ceremony was removed from the agenda. The three-mile crossing symbolized civil rights marches from the 1960s.

“We always want more people here, and we need more advertising,” said Inglewood Unified School District Superintendent Gary McHenry, who noted that last year’s march brought more than 1,000 students from across the 19 public schools in the district. “This is an important event that celebrates how Martin Luther King [Jr.] awoke the consciousness of a nation.”

Families with young children made up most of the audience at the youth-centered celebration, but some attendees stood solo as longtime veterans of Martin Luther King Jr. events.

“There are some people who, no matter what type of event that honors Dr. King, they’ll be there,” noted Sabrina Barnes, director of Inglewood’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

William Brown, retired U.S. Postal Service employee and Inglewood resident, expressed unease at this year’s smaller turnout.

“Normally, it’s packed,” Brown said. “What really bothers me is that Dr. King and his followers paved the way for people to be where they are today. It seems to me that some people have forgotten that.”

After the event, organizers encouraged attendees to continue the celebration beyond the morning’s ceremonies, such as at the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace & Unity Parade Celebration in Long Beach, Calif., at which a festival was held until 5 p.m.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure that the young individuals see Dr. King’s vision,” Barnes added. “We, not just African-Americans, but we as a community and nation. He was speaking for everyone who suffered an injustice.”

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons