30 March 2014 :: The community, the Greater Community, The City of Angels we aspire to be, bid farewell to Celes King IV at his funeral yesterday morning and afternoon.
We celebrated a life well and completely lived – even if cut short. We prayed and wept and laughed and sang – and learned things we probably should’ve known all along.
Constantly in motion, Celes moved between the corridors of power in Los Angeles and Sacramento often – and (for a large man in a pastel suit with a squeaky artificial leg) at great speed. He was busted recently in Victorville for doing 115 mph. Professionally a bail bondsman I don’t see how he could be jailed – especially as he knew every politician-in-and-out-of-office, red-or-blue, in every courthouse along the 5 Freeway and in every office in the Capitol.
They probably took away his driver’s license – but like the banditos in The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Celes needed “no stinkin’ license ”. Though “Stinkin’” probably bowdlerizes the explicative.
A public man held dear by his family, gregarious and gruff – probably not the best-organized community organizer – Celes (known to those near and dear to him as Mike) transcended organization and was a champion for the causes he believed in. A Champion for Education, a Champion for Civil Rights– a double-and-redoubled champion when those two intersected. As retired Congressperson Diane Watson said at the service: “Celes was the one who got things started”.
Any service in a Black church that begins with a Willie Nelson song promises much – and Celes was a man who always delivered.
The Crenshaw Elite Choir performed – led by Iris Stevenson– and we were reminded repeatedly of the ongoing injustice done by LAUSD to the students of Ms. Stevenson at Crenshaw High School by her forced removal from that school.
This was Celes’ last cause …and it is up to us to finish it. Not just for Ms. Stevenson and her students but for all teachers unjustly housed and for all children unjustly impacted.
Then we must go on to work on the rest of Celes’ dreams. And our own and those of all these children. -smf