Cherise Bremond and Pamela Bakewell
Los Angeles Urban League Honors Academy Award-Winning Black Men
At one of the largest, most impressive, and memorable events of its type, the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL) recently honored the 19 Black Men of the Oscars(r) and others at its 36th Annual Whitney M. Young, Jr. Awards Dinner, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel, in Century City.
Attracting more than 1,600 people including local and national business and community leaders, corporate partners, elected officials and celebrities, the Gala Event also honored Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, with the Community Coalition Partnership Award, Kenneth Pearce and Britney Armstrong with the LAUL/NestlÅ½ Youth Leadership Award. Awards were presented by Michael L. Garrett, University of California Athletic Director, Alfre Woodward, Actress, and Attorney Connie Rice, Co-Director The Advancement Project.
“It is with tremendous pride and appreciation for their achievement that we honor these individuals tonight,” Blair Taylor, LAUL President and CEO, said. “These honorees have set an example for us all, and through their individual triumph, they give us all hope for better, more just, and color-blind society. Through their artistic works, they have made our lives richer. This is what the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Awards are intended to honor and tonight’s awardees embody this spirit.”
Even though all of the 17-living Oscars(r) -winning African-American men were not physically present to receive their accolades, their presence was very much felt throughout the evening as frequent references and a montage of photographs and images captured moments from their performances in films, music, sound, and other categories.
The acting awardees include Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Goding, Jr., Louis Gosset, Jr., Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. Music and Sound awardees include Willie D. Burton, Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman, Paul Beauregard, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, and Prince. Special Awards recipients include James Baskett and Quincy Jones.
“This event represents all of what the Urban League is about and a culmination of what we do.” Pamela Bakewell, Los Angeles Urban League Chief Neighborhood Officer said. “It is about leadership, neighborhood change and advocacy.”
The evening began with an elaborate Red Carpet celebrity arrival and VIP Reception. The formal program began with Master of Ceremonies, News Anchor and ABC7 Eyewitness News Commentator Marc Brown, offering an introduction of Sponsors and Honorees. Welcome and Opening Remarks were offered by Past Board Chair, Irving Miller, Group VP, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., and current Board Chairman, LAUL, Carl A. Bellton, President, Union Bank of California Foundation.
After a fitting invocaton was offered by Rev., Dr. John Hunter, of First AME Church in Los Angeles, patrons were treated to a partial screening of “Tale Of Two Brothers, a film about two brothers who after near death experiences and the support and guidance from the LAUL, become men of distinction who break generational patterns and become leaders of tomorrow.
Awards dinner patrons were also treated to special presentations from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Mayor AntonioVillaraigosa. Both men, with considerable familiarity with the LAUL as a result of partnerships that are on-going with the State of California and the City of Los Angeles that benefit the community, were very much at-home with the large, mostly Black audience.
Following a delicious meal, efficiently served by the Century Plaza staff, the patrons heard from Dinner Chair Dennis W. Schuler, EVP & Chief Human Resources Officer of the Walt Disney Corporation, Taylor, Alfre Woodward, Mistress of Ceremonies and Brown.
Taylor expressed his appreciation to everyone involved in the planning, execution, sponsorship, and support of the 36th Annual Whitney M. Young, Jr. Awards Dinner. He made special mention of former LAUL president John W. Mack and Young, who served as the Executive Director of the National Urban League from 1961 through 1971.
“Young gave voice for the voiceless and hope for the hopeless.” Taylor said, referring to the creative leadership and solution-seeking inspiration he provided during a very difficult time in our nation’s civil rights history.
Cherise Bremond, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade said. “It is always my pleasure to honor and support the fine work of the Los Angeles Urban League. They continue to do great things in our community and the tremendous success of tonight’s awards dinner is a testament to their presence and effectiveness in the communities that they serve.”
The annual Awards Dinner is the signature event and largest fundraiser for the L.A. Urban League. It was launched in 1974 and continues to generate over a million dollars, for each of the last several years, in funds that are critical to the general operations of the League and are used to enhance League programs and service in the community.