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Remembering the Bakersfield Black History Parade on Lakeview

Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 22, 2024
  • Video shows the original route of the Bakersfield Black History Parade along what is now called Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
  • Before the parade made it’s way down 21st Street, it traveled along a different route. Many of us know it now as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, but back when it played home to the parade it was Lakeview Avenue.

The Bakersfield Black History Parade celebrates our local black culture throughout Kern, but the parade itself holds a special and significant history for residents.

Before the parade made it’s way down 21st Street, it traveled along a different route. Many of us know it now as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, but back when it played home to the parade it was Lakeview Avenue.

Neighborhood News Reporter Veronica Morley Interviewing Leon Denweed & Brent Maddox

Leon Denweed has been attending the Black History Parade since he was four years old. It's a memory that holds a special place in his heart.

“If you don’t know the history of Black history, how can you celebrate it?” Denweed asked.

Back in his day, Denweed said the parade would travel down Lakeview with the community eventually gathering at MLK Park to celebrate.

“Going and watching the pop lock, the dancing, the drill teams, the dashiki, I mean they had so much," he said.

Brent Maddox also grew up in Lakeview watching the parade. For both men, Bakersfield’s Black history was celebrated year-round, with role models in community passing down the importance of our local black culture.

“Guys like Lonnie Shelton, Freddie Boyd, Guys like even a few years older than I am, Wayne Smith, Milton Henderson, these guys were like living legends," Maddox said.

Denweed said he remembers Lakeview surrounded by black-owned businesses all taking part in the parade. Something that he’s continued on in his own way, sharing soul food with the rest of Bakersfield.

Even though the parade has changed throughout the years, he hopes that when the younger generation comes out now to take part in the celebrations, they take away the local history that has spanned generations.

“If it wasn’t for our ancestors putting in the work for us to have freedom," Denweed said. "None of that would have happened if it wasn’t for the ancestors."

This year, the community is invited to enjoy the black history parade together. It kicks off Saturday at 21st street at 10 a.m.


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