August 23, 2012
Yussuf J. Simmonds,
LAWT Staff Writer
Last weekend, Larry Grant, founder of the Kingdom Day Parade, died at the age of 86. He started the parade first in San Diego and then continued his efforts in Los Angeles in 1980. The parade honored and showcased the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. every January, the month of the civil rights leader’s birthday. In honoring him, Grant earned himself a legacy and a place in history next to the man known as one of the most influential people of all time.
As the parade developed over the years, its audience and participants grew bigger and bigger, and came from further and further. In his last parade (2012), he brought in a choir of children from Haiti who performed songs in Korean along with people from Haiti and So. Korea who chaperoned them. The parade attracted people from all over the world.
Born on March 14, 1926 in Sherman, Texas, Grant was disciplined in his studies from adolescence. Not only was he the Valedictorian of his senior class at the tender age of 16, he also held that esteemed privilege when graduating from the U.S Army Finance & Accounting School in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1949, Grant attended the University of Maryland and completed his graduate studies at the American Institute of Banking as well as National University, where he received the Distinguished Leader Award.
Grant dedicated 20 years to the United States Army and in 1952, he used his skills to become the 8th Army Fiscal Officer for the 8th U.S. Army Staff Finance & Accounting Center. His responsibility allowed him to allocate millions of appropriated funds to repair and refurbish the old Japanese Headquarters at Yongsan main post in Seoul, So. Korea.
Back in civilian life, Grant dedicated another 20 years to the banking industry, serving in executive positions as the highest ranking African American with premier banks such as Security Pacific National Bank, Bank of Finance, City National Bank, Imperial Bank, and Pacific Coast Bank. The inspiration for creating the Kingdom Day Parade came to Grant while serving as the president & CEO of Pacific Coast Bank. Little did he realize that this parade idea would soon come to be internationally recognized on four continents by millions of people who, like himself, strived to keep Dr. King’s philosophy a reality.
Comments from elected officials and the community:
Congresswoman Laura Richardson: “The death of Larry E. Grant brought immense sorrow to me, his family and friends, and to the countless people who loved and respected him. I remember fondly Mr. Grant’s devotion to keeping the legacy of Dr. King alive through the annual MLK Parade in Los Angeles. Mr. Grant was a leader in the community and was instrumental in sharing Dr. King’s philosophy with future generations.
Mr. Grant was one of the pioneers of Black bankers in the State of California. He was the President and CEO of Pacific Coast Bank in San Diego, Calif. where he started banking in 1964 until his retirement in 1984.
Mr. Grant touched the lives of so many people and will be sorely missed by us all. I offer my sincerest condolences to his family.”
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
“Los Angeles mourns the passing of Larry Grant, the founder of the Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade. As the founder of the Kingdom Day Parade, Mr. Grant ensured the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would resonate to all those touched by the fight for equality and has been celebrated by all Angelenos for 27 years.
“He is a gem to our community that will sincerely be missed. He had a true heart of service, and this immeasurable drive was seen through his many remarkable life achievements. His contributions will forever live on in our memories and will continue to prevail through the legacy of the Kingdom Day Parade.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Grant’s friends and family at this difficult time.”
Congresswoman Janice Hahn:
“I join all of Los Angeles and the millions of Kingdom Day Parade observers and participants from the past 27 years, in mourning the passing of Mr. Larry Grant.
“Larry Grant was one of those legendary individuals who served his country with honor in the U.S. Army, and later became a local icon in his civilian life. When Larry first conceived the idea of a parade honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he brought his plans to my father, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. My father enthusiastically endorsed and embraced the idea.
“In addition to the Kingdom Day Parade here in Los Angeles, Larry also founded large MLK celebrations in Las Vegas and San Diego. Another little known fact about Larry Grant is that because of his perseverance, the Los Angeles City Council took action several years ago to move the public comment segment of their meetings to the beginning of session, which has since saved citizens countless hours of waiting time.
“For these achievements and many more, Larry Grant will be sorely missed. And while it is hard to imagine his signature event without him, every future Kingdom Day Parade in Los Angeles will serve as a tribute to Larry’s legacy of civic pride and commitment to Dr. King’s dream. I was honored to call Larry Grant my friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
Celes King IV:
“Larry Grant co-founded the parade with my father (Celes King III) over 28 years ago and from the fledging beginning, he emerged it into a program that brought communities together and gave it an international footprint and it became a focal point in our community. His direction and leadership, in regards to bringing the whole community together, will be sorely missed.