It isn’t often that a superintendent of schools is treated like a celebrity. But many of those attending the Kingdom Day Parade on Monday recognized Michelle King, named just a week earlier to head L.A. Unified, and gave in to the urge to have their photo taken with her.
“It’s Michelle King. Oh, my God, I’m so excited,” one woman shouted as she posed for a selfie with the new superintendent shortly before the parade began. “I’m happy for you,” the woman told King, smiling as a friend took the cell-phone camera to snap an even better picture.
Superintendent King wasn’t simply a bystander, instead accompanying the LAUSD All-City Honor Marching Band, directed by Tony White, as it marched from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue to Leimert Park, the heart of South Los Angeles. The band performed “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and other familiar tunes as thousands of others watched, danced and sang along.
The Kingdom Day Parade honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and is considered the largest such celebration in the U.S.
“Today is very special to me as a new superintendent,” Superintendent King said. “I have the honor of marching among my students, whom I’m so proud of. They’re the best marching band in the country, and I’m marching with them and we’re excited to be here.”
The holiday held special meaning to her, Superintendent King said. “Today is inspiration to all of us to realize the possible, and to know that anyone, all of us, can reach our dreams and goals by perseverance, working hard and by working together as a community.”
As she walked behind those holding the band’s banner, Ms. King waved to the crowd. One woman ran up to her and shook her hand and snapped a quick photo. Others in the crowd yelled encouragement to her as she walked in step with the band.
After marching until the parade ended, Superintendent King offered no hesitation to what will be her lasting memory from the event.
“The best part,” she said, “has been being among the kids.”