“At your Service: A Legacy of Firsts” is the 16th installation in the African American Heritage Month exhibit series and the first AAHM exhibit on display in City Hall since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. More than 100 information panels line the bridge inside Los Angeles City Hall, showcasing the City’s recognition of the achievements of African American electeds and the role Black culture has played in shaping America.
The African American Heritage Month exhibit began in 2006 as a part of the City’s Black history month celebration and was the brainchild of then-Council President Emeritus Herb Wesson. During his three terms in office, he tasked his deputy, Albert Lord, with producing a display to commemorate the cultural, political, entertainment and educational accomplishments of Black Americans.
“At Your Service: A Legacy of Firsts” exhibit opens with a 2006 video produced by Lord and narrated by then-Councilmembers Wesson, Bernard Parks and Jan Perry. The video pays tribute to the 13 pioneer Black council members that had served the City of Los Angeles since its incorporation as a municipality in 1850.
The display video also includes the playback of three city council African African Heritage Month presentations. In 2018, “Write in America,” honored Southern California print and broadcast journalists on-and-off camera. In 2019, “Blacks in Cinema,” paid tribute to Black filmmakers and actors on the big and small screen and a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the Pan African Film Festival. The 2020 exhibit, “Stand UP: The Art and Politics of Comedy,” recognized legacy and contemporary stand-up comedians, comedy club owners, producers and publicists.
“At Your Service: A Legacy of Firsts” outlines the legacy of African American elected officials like Tom Bradley, L.A.’s first Black Mayor; newly elected officials like Karen Bass, the first woman and the first Black woman mayor of Los Angeles; Kamala Harris, a California native and the first Black and South Asian American woman to become vice president of the United States; and Heather Hutt, the first woman and the first Black woman to represent Council District 10.
Lord, an Emmy Award recipient, is Community Build, Inc. Vice President of Governmental Relations and Arts Program. In addition to “At Your Service: A Legacy of Firsts,” exhibit at City Hall, the 2019 AAHM exhibit “Blacks in Cinema” is displayed at Community Build’s offices, 4305 Degnan Blvd. in Leimert Park.
Blacks in Cinema showcases the Blaxploitation film genre. Highlights in the display include television and film actors of the 1970s including Marla Gibbs (“227,” “The Jeffersons”), Glen Turman (“Cooley High”) Ted Lange (“Love Boat,” “That’s My Mama”); Academy Award Winners Ruth Carter (Best Costume Design) and Hannah Beachler (Best Production Design) for their work in the 2018 blockbuster Black Panther.
Community Build, Inc. will serve as a partner in archiving the entire AAHM Legacy Project. Future plans include collaborating with the L.A. Public Library to develop a virtual exhibit with educational programming.
“It is up to us to be the keeper of our own history and the history of those who came before us.” Community Build President Robert Sausedo said. “We owe it to future generations to let them know the legacy of those who paved the way.”
“At Your Service: A Legacy of Firsts,” is currently on display at city hall through March 31, 2023. “Blacks in Cinema” is currently on display as a self-guided walking exhibit in Leimert Park, open daily and free to the public.
For more information visit Communitybuildinc.org or call (323) 290-6560.