We assembled at Gladys Park in Skid Row. The sounds of the Mudbug Brass band filled the park and beautiful handcrafted quilted-portraits of the honorees, created by artist Brian Dick, were held high for everyone to see. There, we danced to the tunes, waiting for the highly anticipated addition to the parade, Mike Kelley’s “Mobile Homestead” – a recreation of Mike Kelley’s childhood home, on wheels, towed by a semi truck! Inside the “Mobile Homestead,” we had pictures, videos and historical information about previous Walk the Talk honorees, a Skid Row History Timeline and on the backside of the trailer we hung a banner with portraits of the 36 previous honorees, created by LA artist Mr. Brainwash. The “Mobile Homestead” pulled up and we were ready to roll, literally.
Along the route, we made 7 stops to tell the stories of those we were honoring. The parade started at Gladys Park, 6th St. and Gladys Avenue, where we heard the story of community activist General Jeff and how he jumpstarted the regeneration of the park. Then the band blew, and we headed up the other end of the block where Zelenne Cardenas, Charles Porter and UCEPP, United Coalition East Prevention Project have employed community building techniques to shut down liquor stores, open up dialog and understanding and dislodge drug dealers from the corner. Next stop: The Midnight Mission, 6th and San Pedro St., to celebrate Clancy Imislund and his 55 years of sobriety, in this the 100th anniversary year of the Midnight Mission. From there, we zig-zaged over to 7th St. and San Julian St., to the home of Skid Row’s own Fire Station LAFD #9, to celebrate the men and women who are out and about the community saving people every day. Heading north on San Julian St. we visited the Simone Hotel, former home of Michael Blaze, who started the Skid Row Photography Club and Unified Fathers for Life. From there it was over to 231 Winston St. and the St. Vincent de Paul Cardinal Manning Center, to hear of the exceptional listening prowess of its long time director, Joan Sotiros. Then, last stop, on 5th St. and Main St., to celebrate poet about downtown, Dr. Mongo.