Rev. Jackson’s Birthday Bash Drew Celebrities and the Community.
When Rev. Jesse Jackson stood at the podium to welcome the gathering of well-wishers at his 66th birthday bash, he was also celebrating his over forty years of service to the people—locally, nationally and internationally. The event was another crowning achievement for the RainbowPUSH Coalition Los Angeles Bureau that hosted the gala event.
Celebrated as the Tenth Annual Awards Dinner, the RainbowPUSH Coalition and Citizen Education Fund program honored a broad cross section of individuals and organizations that have contributed to improving the quality of life for those whom Rev. Jackson has dedicated his forty years of service—from the days of the Civil Rights Movement up to and including the victims of Hurricane Katrina to the Jena Six to the current sub-prime economic crisis.
The honorees included Judge Greg Mathis, the Hope Award; Arlene Holt Baker, the Social Justice Award; Don Newcombe, the Trailblazer Award; Monica Loranzo, the Bridge Builder Award; Larry King, the Lifetime Achievement Award; “Respect Me” Coalition, the Advocate Award; and Harry Belafonte, the Living Legend Award (in absentia). At intervals throughout the evening, Rev. Jackson highlighted the achievements of each honoree before presenting each one of them individually with the RainbowPUSH award.
After giving a general overview of the evening activities, Rev. Jackson called to the stage a group of special guests as he outlined some of their historic contributions, and recognized many of the other special guests in the audience. Those called to the stage included Motown’s founder, the legendary Berry Gordy; the King of Pop, Michael Jackson; Los Angeles Sentinel publisher, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr; and Sam Snow, the last living member of a group of United States servicemen, who served their country but were not recognized for their efforts until recently. Also on stage to salute these special guests was Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles.
According to Rev. Jackson, the RainbowPUSH award is given to individuals who have worked to effect immeasurable change in a wide range of areas. In addition to the aforementioned, named honorees, Brenda Marsh-Mitchell, founder of the “Respect Me” Coalition received the Advocate Award—individually and collectively—on behalf of the coalition which consists of a diverse group of women, who have joined in a collaborative movement with a mission of reaffirming and reclaiming the respect and definition of African American women and their true identity.
The dinner reflected an exact replica of the depth and breadth of Rev. Jackson’s work and service throughout the country, representing those who have been shortchanged in the opportunities they have received and the representation that they have been afforded. He has stated that in America we still confront a perplexing dilemma of underserved and overlooked markets, untapped capital and underutilized talent. These cultural blinders must come off if we truly desire to tap the full potential of democracy, economic success and to greenline the red-line zones.