“Simply phenomenal,” says actress Sheryl Lee Ralph as she described the out pouring of love and commitment shown for our children during the press conference launching the Los Angeles Mentoring Movement last Saturday afternoon, at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. It was a weekend, All About Love, and honor as we remembered the work and examples set for us by our beloved Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This new story began just over a year ago with a National Call to Action by editorial director of Essence Magazine, Susan L. Taylor. The call for one million new mentors to sign up through Essence Cares, a new initiative launched by Essence Magazine, for at least four hours a month to mentor a young person, is being answered in cities across the country. Regional CARES circles are being formed faster than we have been able to fully document.
Los Angeles Mentoring Movement, Los Angeles CARES, a collaboration of over 30 mentoring organizations, groups and individuals was officially launched this weekend. Standing with Susan Taylor and traveling around the country with her announcing the launching of these CARES circles was Mr. Thomas Dortch, Jr., National Chairman Emeritus for the 100 Black Men of America. Other celebrities and leaders joining Ms. Taylor and speaking in support of the this important effort were: the well respected, hip hop artist Common who committed through a partnership with his Common Ground Foundation to stand with Ms. Taylor as the movement continues to grow. Entertainer, Jonathan Slocomb added his special brand of support by using his gift as a comedian. “There is no way, I would have not shown up today,” says Dwan Smith who stared in the movie Sparkle. Danny Bakewell, Jr. president of the Los Angeles Sentinel and member of the steering committee for the Los Angeles Mentoring Movement spoke passionately about mentoring as a solution to so many of our challenges in the community.
The King weekend celebration began on Friday evening January 18th, with a reception hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the 100 Black Men, held at the Museum of African Art located on the 3rd floor of Macy’s department store. Berlinda Jamerson, director at the museum had reason to be concerned earlier in the week when, Anthony Samad, president of the 100 Black Men, had to stop taking reservations for the event due to the overwhelming response. The excitement was building and the momentum created by the talented individuals serving on the steering committee had begun to grow at a rapid pace.
I met Susan Taylor at the airport thanks to Debra Legans, president of Wings Limousine Service and headed directly to the reception at Macy’s where we were joined by Thomas Dortch, who arrived from Atlanta an hour prior to Ms. Taylor’s arrival from Seattle. Stepping into the museum we were completely amazed by the overcrowded room with a set capacity of 350 guests. It was truly an awesome sight and feeling to witness Los Angeles coming together to stand for our children.
All levels of government and leadership were represented including Deputy Director, Alexander Kim, from Governor’s Schwarze-negger, State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, Assembly Member Curren Price, Los Angeles City Councilmember, Bernard Parks, City Councilmember of Gardena, Steven Bradford, President Culver City Board of Education, Sandra Davis, Kim Willis, Vice President, Magic Johnson Development Corporation, Pat Means, president Turning Point Magazine and many heads of non-profit groups such as the National Council of Negro Women, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, Los Angeles African American Political Action Committee, Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute, and the Regalletes, Inc. to name a few.
It was a proud moment in our new history that Susan Taylor asked us to write. She lovingly reminded us that we do not have to relive the atrocities that Dr. King and so many others had to live through, in order to be the great people we were purposed to be. She asked if, “every able stable adult” in the room would reach out and touch a young person’s life by giving only four hours a month to them as a mentor. In a matter of seconds after posing the question hands were raised all across the room affirming their commitment. At the end of the evening we had collected no less than one hundred business cards from guests telling us that we could count on them. Walking out of the room, Brenda Ross Dulan, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank, one of the sponsors for the event said, “ I am just so inspired.”
Many of the same individuals were present the following afternoon and evening at the Nate Holden center for the 16th Annual Salute to Dr. King, hosted by the World Literacy Crusade. This red carpet event brought out an impressive list of performers and speakers all in support of our children and continuing the dream of Dr. King.
Closing out her two-day participation during King week, Ms. Taylor and I were guests on the Sunday morning gospel radio show with Niele on V100. She and I took this opportunity to thank Los Angeles for coming out and for standing up for our children. In response to Niele’s question, “what are we going to do with out Susan Taylor’s In The Spirit column in Essence Magazine, Ms. Taylor said, “ you will have me as I travel around the country on my book tour which brings me into the community. It’s my time to really be with my people.”
Susan Taylor’s book, All About Love can be purchased at Eso Won bookstore in Leimert Park. For more information on the Los Angeles Mentoring Movement call 818-571-1097 or send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.