Story by Kellie Chudzinski | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner
Gray morning skies did not dampen spirits in Westchester on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with nearly 300 children and parents gathering at Sepulveda and La Tijera boulevards for the second annual LAX Coastal Kids’ March for Equality.
After chowing down on sweets gifted by Randy’s Donuts, young activists marched up Sepulveda chanting “Hey, hey; ho, ho — inequality has got to go.” Many carried signs with messages of love and hope, some of them inspired by the late civil rights icon, such as “We can’t drive out hate, only love can do that.” Passing cars honked in support as they headed toward LAX.
Playa Vista resident Lara Tavaras brought her 5-year-old son Ocean to the march for the first time.
Tavaras said she hoped to give Ocean “exposure to people in his neighborhood who are conscious and thinking about our place in the world, and teaching him that it’s his civic duty to engage and be as active as he can be.”
Ocean, his mom said, is already an eco-activist with his own nonprofit, Ocean’s Water (oceanswater.org), to combat plastic pollution. For the march, he held a simple sign that in orange letters read “dream.”
Multiple generations of families came out to march together, with Natasha Haubrick of Playa del Rey bringing her 4-year-old daughter Halle and her parents Laren and Eldred McClean together for the event.
Culver City residents Vicky and Will Tsu recently moved from Chicago and were happy to discover this rare kid-friendly march on Facebook for their daughters Noami, 6, and Audrey, 4. They helped their daughters make signs for the event, Audrey’s stating “Beauty is in everything” and Noami’s stating “The time’s always right to do the right thing.”
Introducing young kids to a community of activism was one motivation for participating that parents continued to bring up.
LAX Coastal Kids’ March for Equality founder Haan-Fawn Chau, a resident of Westchester’s Kentwood neighborhood, said it was the insistence of fellow parents that pushed her to reprise this kid-friendly event.
“I didn’t plan to do it again, but last time parents left saying ‘See you next year,’” said Chau, describing the event as a positive experience that may encourage future civic engagement.
“[I hope] it shows kids how to speak up” and that it’s “good and normal to speak out for things you believe in,” she adds. “As parents, we’re making the world for our kids. They are our future and our future leaders.”
Chau would like to continue the event annually and may try to do it biannually if she finds another good day for kids and parents to participate together.
To plan the event she was joined by eight volunteers, including Mary De La Rosa, who spent the march running the concessions with her daughter.
De La Rosa said she sees the march as planting “the seed so [kids] know we can make a positive change in our community,” she said. “Kids are our future.”
This year’s event nearly doubled the 150 people who turned up for the march last year, with Chau giving credit to sponsor Kumon of Westchester for helping volunteers reach a wider and more diverse community.