Senator Ricardo Lara and Long Beach firefighter Rex Pritchard are among those being honored as grand marshals in this weekend’s 27th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace & Unity Parade.

The parade, which will take place January 17, will feature a theme of “From Poverty to Prosperity.”

This year’s honorees include Senator Lara; Pritchard; Anitra Dempsey; Luther Williams; Cindy Young and Marybeth Murray of Child Development Centers; Nary Loeung; and Cecilia Chavez. Naomi Rainey of the Long Beach NAACP branch will serve as the 2015 honorary chair of the parade.

“We are very fortunate to have individuals in our community that reach beyond the everyday challenges to include serving others in a way that uplifts the entire community. It is people like these individuals that have helped shape our neighborhoods,” said Councilman Dee Andrews in a statement.

The parade will begin Saturday morning at 10:30AM at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Anaheim Street. It will proceed North on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, turn right (East) on 19th Street, and turn left (North) on Lemon Avenue. Free parking will be provided at Long Beach City College (LBCC), located at Orange Avenue and Pacific Coast Hwy. Shuttle buses will also transport participants and spectators to and from the parade route from the hours of 7:30AM to 10:00AM, LBCC.

Andrews recognized the honorees with the following bios:

Senator Ricardo Lara
Senator Ricardo Lara was elected with overwhelming support in November 2012 to represent the Southeast Los Angeles County cities of the 33rdSenate District. Raised in a blue collar immigrant family in East Los Angeles, Ricardo knows first- hand the challenges facing the cities and communities of Southeast Los Angeles County. He is fervently committed to improving the quality of life for working families in California.

A champion for educational equity, civil rights and immigrant rights, Ricardo has authored legislation chaptered into law by Governor Jerry Brown which improved the quality of life for California’s working families by improving quality and access to education, protecting a woman’s right to take pregnancy leave, ensuring greater government transparency and oversight, protecting taxpayer dollars and ensuring certain consumer protections.

Rex Pritchard, President of the Long Beach Firefighters Local 372, along with Fire Stations 7 & 10
Rex Pritchard, president of the Long Beach Fire Fighters Union, Local 372, received his Bachelor of Science Degree from California State University, Fullerton and his multiple subject teaching credential from Whittier College. He was hired by the East Whittier City School District in 1996 where he spent four years as a science teacher and athletic director at Hillview Middle School. In 2000, the Long Beach Fire Department hired Rex where he is currently an engineer at Station 10 on Peterson Avenue. Rex has been at Station 10 for over 10 years.

Anitra Dempsey
Since 1987, Anitra has worked in several positions with City of Long Beach, including at the Long Beach Police Department and in the City Manager’s Office. She has a long and distinguished record of service in the areas of community policing, nuisance abatement, police complaints and hate crime response, recognition and prevention. In January 2007, she was appointed as the Executive Director of the Citizen Police Compliant Commission, a chartered commission that provides an independent review of allegations of police misconduct, with an emphasis on use of force, sexual assault and race-related complaints.

As the City’s first Human Dignity Program Officer (January 2000 – January 2007), Anitra worked to ensure that “everyone is treated with dignity and respect regardless of their racial background, their nation of origin, the religion they practice, their sexual orientation, gender or disability status.” In the fall of 2006, she was called upon during a high profile hate crime where she helped send a citywide message of peace, trust and respect.

After the 2011 accidental death of her 21 year old son, Jeff Jr, Anitra and her family (husband Jeffery, Sr. and daughter, Ashley) established the Jeffery Dempsey, Jr. Memorial Fund to provide scholarships for college students and to support messages of sports safety. In partnership with Action Sports Kids (ASK), Anitra promotes skate boarding safety and community stewardship among youth and young adults. Her dream is to have a national “sports safety” campaign.

Luther Williams
Luther Williams taught Math at both Polytechnic High School and Wilson High School before retiring in 1995. He is a member of several community organizations such as President, Inter-Alumni Council of UNCF-Los Angeles, Director, LBS Financial Credit Union, Treasurer, Life Member of N.A.A.C.P, and Board Member of the Bouggess-White Scholarship Foundation. Luther is listed in the Edition of Outstanding Young Men of America. He is a member of Christ Second Baptist Church where he serves on the Deacon Board as the Financial Secretary.

Cindy Young and Marybeth Murray of the Long Beach Unified School District Child Development Department
Marybeth Murray is a Program Specialist with the Long Beach Unified School District Child Development Department. She started her education career as a classroom aide in the Special Education department of the Los Angeles County Office of Education. She earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis on Early Childhood Special Education. Marybeth continued her education and went on to earn a National Board Certification which is an advanced teaching credential.

Cindy Young is the Director of the Child Development Centers and has served as an educator with Long Beach Unified for 30 years. She started her career as a kindergarten teacher and eventually taught grades 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Her leadership roles include District Facilitator, Vice Principal, Principal, Program Administrator of Strategic Planning and New Principal Coach. As an elementary school principal she converted a District Elementary school into a Charter School, taking its API scores from 450 to 850 in 5 years.

Nary Loeung
Mrs. Nary Loeung has been a strong community advocate and demonstrates community service excellence. She is a firm believer of social justice, equality, and a strong commitment to encourage residents to actively engage in their civic community. In addition, Mrs. Loeung has been volunteering endless hours of her time, skill, experience and knowledge to preserve, educate and share the amazing Cambodian’s classical dance to this wonderful community for more than a decade. She’s one of the respected leader in our community.

Cecilia Chavez
Over the past eight years, Cecilia has headed the Holy Innocents Crisis Pregnancy Center, outreaching to expecting mothers, as a volunteer. She has personally helped over 600 mothers to find resources to support their motherhood, rather it be financial, medical, shelter, or personal goods. She continues as long as the mothers need help. She is a selfless volunteer that epitomizes the spirit of Dr. King.

Naomi Rainey as the 2015 Honorary Chair of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade
Mrs. Naomi Rainey is the current president of the Long Beach Branch of the NAACP and Secretary of the California State NAACP. The NAACP’s mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and discrimination. The Long Beach branch of the organization carries that mission into the community.

For more information about the parade, click here.