Celes King IV, 1943 – 2014: Always on the Go

The son of legendary South Los Angeles bail bondsman Celes King IV was a master community advocate in his own right.

King doesn't have a bail agent's license. His sister and his niece operate the bond business, but he knows the pathway through the criminal justice system, inside and out.

Celes King IV pictured in 2013. | Matt Hamilton

He walked with a slow gait, but Celes King IV — the South Los Angeles community advocate who died March 15 of heart failure — was always on the go.

“Can we schedule a time to meet tomorrow?” I asked him last spring, when I was profiling him for class.

“Tomorrow I’ll be in Sacramento at a protest in the morning,” he told me. “I’ll be there for the rest of the week.”

A deadline loomed, so at midnight, I hopped in my station wagon and made the 400-mile drive – a route Celes made at least once a week.

Read Matt Hamilton’s profile of Celes from last year on Intersections: South L.A.’s man in Sacramento

On the steps of the Capitol in the morning, he greeted me, wearing a white suite with cyan-hued leather shoes. Our day began. [Read more…]

South L.A.’s man in Sacramento

Celes King-portrait

Celes King IV stands on the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Denker Avenue in South Los Angeles, outside the bail bond shop started by his parents in 1947.

“Votes are important,” whispered Celes King IV. “It keeps them in office.”

It’s 10:05 a.m. in Sacramento, and King knows that the relationship he has with the community is his main tool. He’s walking out of a committee hearing, rocking sideways with each step as he balances his good leg and his prosthetic one. The transcript would show King’s impact on the meeting was negligible. He voiced support for a bill about monitoring of sex offenders by stating his name and the civil rights organization he represents – the Congress of Racial Equality of California, CORE.

But he’s not in Sacramento to change sex offender monitoring laws. What’s more important is the bill’s author, Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway. “There’s so many bills I’m tied to that she’s tied to,” said King, so maintaining that relationship with Conway is paramount. [Read more…]