Martin Luther King Jr. gives a press conference in December 1963 after speaking to President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House

Martin Luther King Jr. gives a press conference in December 1963 after speaking to President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House
Photo by Warren K. Leffler/Library of Congress

Racial justice has improved since the Civil Rights era, but as the events of 2014 clearly underscored, many unresolved issues remain.

During Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, events in Santa Monica and Culver City inspire celebration of past gains and contemplation of current challenges.

‘Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere’

Culver City’s 10th annual community celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Culver City Senior Center, 4095 Overland Ave., Culver City.

Margaret Prescod, host of KPFK 90.7-FM’s “Sojourner Truth Show,” moderates
a panel discussion on the current atmosphere of the American justice system featuring Los Angeles County prosecutor Bobby Grace, community activist Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi, former Los Angeles City Councilman Robert C. Farrell and UCLA African-American studies graduate student Funmilola Fagbamila.

There’s also a screening of the Stanley Earl Nelson Jr. film “Freedom Summer,” a dramatic rendition of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by actor Gerald C. Rivers and a West African djembe drums performance by Ocean Charter School 7th- and 8th-graders.

The event is free. For more information, call (310) 253-6675 or visit culvercity.org.

‘The Fierce Urgency of Now’

Santa Monica’s weekend celebration of King’s legacy coalesces around the theme “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” echoing his 1967 speech on racism and the Vietnam War.

•    The Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs, executive director of Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), leads a prayer breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church, 1008 11th St., Santa Monica. $25.

•    Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra Conductor Guido Lamell leads a commemorative concert at 2 p.m. Saturday at the SGI-USA Auditorium, 525 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. Free.

•    Gabriella Rosco of CLUE and various entertainers kick off a community involvement affair featuring meet-and-greets with civic leaders from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday at SGI-USA Auditorium, 525 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. Free.

Call (310) 941-9172 or visit facebook.com/mlkwestsidecoalition

“Dutchman” 

Levy Lee Simon directs a free public reading of the Obie-winning 1964 Amiri Baraka play, with Tanna Frederick and Siaka Massaquoi performing the allegorical story of white woman Lula and black man Clay as they cross paths on a New York City subway. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica.

RSVP required: call (310) 392-0815 or email erikkilpatrick@hotmail.com.

— Michael Aushenker

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