Danny Bakewell Sr. along with members of the Buffalo Soldiers. Photo by Jason Lewis By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
Several members of Los Angeles' religious community were on hand for the Opening Ceremony for African American Heritage Month held January 28 at City Hall.Rev. Dr. Marvis Davis of and Rev. Dr. William Epps were among the ministers joining Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and elected officials in kicking-off the annual event which featured a salute Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell Sr., boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, and members of the historic Freedom Riders. Dr. Davis is pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church of Venice and Dr. Epps, who also delivered the invocation, is pastor of Second Baptist Church.Also in attendance were Rev. Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick, pastor of Praises of Zion Baptist Church and president of the Western Baptist State Convention; Rev. Dr. Henry Masters, pastor of Holman United Methodist Church; Rev. Terry Brown Sr., pastor of Liberty Baptist Church; Rev. Dr. C. Dennis Williams, pastor of Brookins Community A.M.E. Church; Rev. Perry J. Jones, pastor of Messiah Baptist Church; and Rev. Leonard Jackson."I'm grateful to be invited by the Mayor and it's blessing to a part of a great heritage. We stand on the shoulders of the accomplishments of our ancestors," said Dr. Davis who also serves as president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Vicinity.Dr. Hardwick added, "I think this event is well-deserved for our community. We deserve the recognition. We have been making life better for all citizens, regardless of color. So, we join in with all citizens and say, 'come on, let's do it together.' We need a spirit of unity in this community to move it forward."The ceremony was co-hosted by the Los Angeles Branch of Our Author's Study Club (OASC), an affiliate of the nationally recognized Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. located in Washington, D.C. at Howard University. ASALH was organized by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1915 to archive, promote, recognize and celebrate African American contributions to world history, literature and culture.Mrs. Vassie Davis Wright founded OASC in 1945 and the organization was chartered by Dr. Woodson to be a chapter of ASALH. In February 1950, OASC created the annual celebration of African American history, endorsed by then-Mayor Fletcher Bowron, and over the years has partnered with the City of Los Angeles to present events throughout the city.Dr. Genevieve A. Shepherd is OASC president, Ernestine Gordon is 1st vice president, Mary C. Cotton is 2nd vice president, and Maude Johnson is 3rd vice president and Mordena Moore is executive director.