(L – R) Jamie Foxx, Tavis Smiley, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa,
Chaka Khan, Johnny Gill.

African American Heritage Month kicked off at City Hall

Mayor honors influential African Americans

By Jason Lewis

Sentinel Staff Writer

Black history month was officially kicked off in the City of Los Angeles
with a celebration at City Hall, which featured a red carpet awards ceremony honoring talk show host, author and philanthropist Tavis Smiley, legendary singer Chaka Khan, and Academy Award winning actor and singer Jamie Foxx.

The filled to capacity opening ceremony took place at the Council Chambers. Councilmember Herb Wesson kicked off the ceremony, and Johnny Gill performed “Lift Every Voice & Sing.”

Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa presented Smiley with the Spirit of Los Angeles Award, Kahn with the Dream of Los Angeles Award, and Foxx with the Hope of Los Angeles Award.

“The City is blessed to honor this trifecta of service and talent that truly represents the spirit of the month and the strength of our African American community here in Los Angeles,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “This is an exciting month for the City of Los Angeles. It is a time when we can all be proud to celebrate not just our African American heritage, but also pay tribute to the leaders and artists who continue to keep our communities strong.”

The event did not stop in the Council Chambers. There were plenty of festivities on the lawn of City Hall.

There were performances by Gill, two-time Grammy gospel duo Mary Mary, Jazz singer Niahla Porter, and Grammy nominee R&B singer N’Dambi.

Also performing was the Tom Bradley Elementary Choir and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

There will be numerous African American Heritage Month activities sponsored by the Mayor’s office.

DCA Music LA African American Heritage Month classes sponsored by Disney and The Nielsen Company. Music LA celebrates African American Heritage Month by hosting music classes for elementary, middle, and high school students. Student will learn basic principles of music through hands-on instrumental and vocal classes based in selected curricula. The classes are designed to celebrate African American culture, foster pride and understanding of African American music traditions, and are free for youths ages 5 to age 18.

The classes run from January through March. Contact the Department of Cultural Affairs for more information. (213) 202-5500.

There will be a poster competition for children and adolescents on February 11 at the California Science Center. This annual contest invites students of all backgrounds to showcase their artistic skills and to explore African American traditions and contributions. Contact (213) 202-5545 for more information.

There will be a creative writing competition for students grades 6 through 12. This annual contest invites middle and high school students to explore aspects of African American heritage and to showcase their writing skills. The event will take place February 25 at the Los Angeles Times Chandler Auditorium. 202. W. First Street. For more information contact (213) 202-5545.