By Ricky Richardson | Contributing Writer

        (Los Angeles, Ca.)- Friday, October 7th, Metro opened its newest light rail line to the public, the 8.5 mile, $2 billion K Line, also known as the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Metro offered free rides all weekend over the entire system in celebration of the opening of the K Line. This was very timely, welcome news, for people attending the USC home game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and Grand Park 10th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, as well as Ciclavia and Los Angeles RAMS home game at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

        Mayor Eric Garcetti and numerous leaders and community stakeholders were on site to celebrate the opening of the Metro K Line- previously known as the Crenshaw/LAX Project.

        “Today, we’re fulfilling a dream that started with Mayor Tom Bradley and was carried on for decades by countless community leaders and elected officials: world-class public transportation in South Los Angeles,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Angelenos generations from now will recognize the opening of this line as a new chapter in Los Angeles’ transportation history- as a moment when we opened doors of opportunity to communities that have been ignored for too long, as we put our commitment to making Los Angeles a more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable city on the fast track.”

        Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, who helped get the K Line across the (almost) finish(ed) line stated, “after decades of going without rail transit, I’m proud to lead Metro as it delivers the K Line to Crenshaw, Inglewood, and all of the other South Los Angeles communities.” “We are eternally grateful to area’s residents and businesses for hosting us in the community during a long and technically complex construction period. I know the K Line will be used and well loved by these communities and the rest of Los Angeles county for decades to come.”

        “The K Line will bring a new era of equitable transportation investment that connects the Crenshaw corridor and Inglewood residents to convenient, fast reliable and low-cost rail transit,” said Metro Board First Vice Chair Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker. “What’s more, it will provide a new gateway to jobs, education, and health care for our communities that need it most.”

        The seven stations currently open are Expo/Crenshaw, Martin Luther King Jr., Leimert Park, Hyde Park, Fairview Heights, Downtown Inglewood and Westchester/Veterans.

        Two additional stations are anticipated to open in 2024, when the Airport Metro Connector is completed.

        This was a cause for a celebration. The opening ceremonies was held in Leimert Park Village. This area is internationally known as the cultural hub of the African American community.

        The K Line! Fest got underway after the Ribbon Cutting ceremony featuring Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Grammy Award Winner Jody Watley, elected officials and community stakeholders.

Ben Caldwell and Medusa (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Medusa and Ben Caldwell (KAOS), served as Emcees for the K Line! Fest. Attendees enjoyed live performances by notable local artists, food from some of the best eateries along the K Line, giveaways, free rides on the K Line and throughout the Metro system and more.

        The Friday Stage program presented by Metro Art. Jerry Flores and DJ Adé was on deck of the ones and twos, spinning an eclectic soundtrack of infectious beats.

Fode Sissoko (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        S.H.I.N.E Muwasi uplifted the spirits of the ancestors and honored the ancestors during Libations. The group proceeded to entertain the crowd with West African drumming, dancing and singing praises.
        The previous act was a perfect segue for the next group. Fode Sissiko on kora, opened with a popular song from Senegal. Kouman Kele West Africa Dance Company continued our journey with a vibrant, visual display of pulsating, and thunderous rhythms and dancing. Attendees couldn’t resist the urge to get up to move and groove to the contagious, infectious rhythms.

Kouman Kele West African Dance Ensemble (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Lula Washington Dance theatre perform a beautiful display of eclectic and electrifying dance performances.

        K Line! Fest honored the rich jazz history, legacy of Leimert Park Village during the next three performances. The Pan African Arktet featuring Mekala Session on drums, Michael Session on sax, Maia on vibes, flute and vocals, Jermaine Paul on bass, Ricky Washington on sax and Fundi Legohn on French horn. They performed “Mothership,” “Dred Scott 1857,” “and closed their set with “Man from Tanganyika” by McCoy Tyner.

        Dwight Trible continued in a straight-ahead jazz mode, performing “All Blue,” by Mongo Santamaria, “Little Sunflower” by Freddie Hubbard and concluded his set with “You’ve Got to Have Freedom,” by the late great Pharaoh Sanders.

        Fernando Pullum Community Arts Jazz Band sounds like seasoned professionals. They performed an energetic set of tunes. The crowd and I were really impressed with their arrangements of “R U Chicken,” “Naima,” “Human Nature,” and “Before I Let Go” featuring vocalist Katrina.

        Bananas Network consisted of original tracks by Alpha tha Alien, All City Jimmy, & Rhys Langston. DJ Linafornia played some original beats.

        Kamau Daáood & A Band of Griots closed out this fabulous Metro K! Fest with a wonderful set of spoken word and jazz. The band featured Shabaka on flute, Carlos Nino on percussions, Greg Paul on drums and Jeffrey Littleton on bass.