Karen Bass for LA Mayor campaign Kick Off event at LATTC. (file photo)



 The former two-term mayor and current mayoral candidate reflect on their 50 years of working towards a better Los Angeles 


Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa believes Karen Bass is the best candidate to serve as the next mayor of Los Angeles.  Villaraigosa says that this is not an arbitrary decision, but a decision based upon a 50-years friendship, working together in the trenches of the city, fighting for those communities and people who have desperately needed the support of government and elected officials time and time again.


Villaraigosa was born in 1953 during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement.  He said that as a child his mom would call him in to come and watch newsreels of civil rights protests where he saw protesters being beaten, sprayed with fire hoses and attacked by police dogs.  Those images, he said, shaped the man he became and has always been a part of the driving force that makes him the man that he is.


“I have always been an organizer.  As a freshman in high school, I joined the Black Student Union at Cathedral and a few months later, I started the Mexican American Student Union,” recalled Villaraigosa.


“Later that year, together we led a walk-out at the school led by the Mexican American Student Union and the Black Student Union to address issues we believed were unfair like school uniforms, culturally relevant history classes that addressed the historical unfair treatment of Blacks and Latinos.  We wanted Spanish classes and they were making us take French and together, we led the boycott,” he said.

(file photo)

Throughout that time and all the times in his life following high school, he has always focused on working with a broader group of people and particularly, African Americans.  He first started working with Karen Bass in 1973 with the coalition against police abuse.


“I understood from an early age that much of the success that I have had is on the backs of the Civil Rights Movement,” acknowledged the mayor, who added that he “wouldn’t have been elected mayor if not for African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Jews and progressive Whites all coming together.”


“That coalition mindset is the mindset I have had my entire life and it is that same mindset that Karen Bass has had her entire life.  She is a coalition builder and understands for the city to progress it can only progress through positive coalitions working together,” he said.


Villaraigosa said that Karen Bass knows and understands that the path to empowerment for those living in South Los Angeles is a path of Blacks and Latinos working together. This idea is not something new and not the result of the most recent city hall scandal, stressed Villaraigosa, but is a lifelong vision that both he and Bass have been working on for more than five decades.


“We have been doing this our entire life, we know that Blacks and Latinos coming together is how the city moves forward,” said Villaraigosa.


Karen Bass echoed the same sentiments as Villaraigosa about the importance of remaining united to address the issues that affect both the Black community and the Latino community.  She said, “When Antonio and I first met was during a time in America when America was drastically changing.


“It was the war in Vietnam, the liberation struggles in Africa, it was just the beginning of the conflicts in Central America, the Civil Rights Movement was winding down and the Black Power Movement, the Latino Power Movement, and all those movements were happening simultaneously, both domestically and internationally, and that fundamentally shaped who we are,” shared the future mayor.


“So I grew up with a view that all of us in the United States were fighting for justice.   Now it might look a little different here and a little different there, but we were fighting for justice to uplift the people who were most marginalized in our communities and we felt that we had that in common.


“In the 1970s when we had the Coalition against Police Abuse, we had a coalitions of African Americans, Latinos and Asians all working together to deal with police abuses throughout our communities,” said Bass.


Villaraigosa said that he cannot be silent about the current issue that is plaguing the Black and Brown division here in Los Angeles as the result of the leaked tapes.  He noted that what bothers him the most is that the four people heard on the tapes (Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, Kevin DeLeón and Ron Herrera) was that “they weren’t fighting for Latino empowerment. They were fighting for their own damn districts.”


In response to being asked recently if Latino empowerment was no longer important, Villaraigosa replied forcefully, “Of course it is, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of Blacks. The path to a successful leader in Los Angeles is not about a single base, it is about uniting the city.


“Look at Tom Bradley. He was elected mayor at a time when the Black population was somewhere around 15-18% of the population. He won because he was able to reach a broad section of the community,” Villaraigosa said.


Regarding his own success, the two-term mayor cited, “It wasn’t about just having support from the Latino community, but I was successful by building a broad coalition of support from the African American, the Asian American, Pacific Islander, and the Jewish communities and everyone else.”


He said that understanding is what is and will make Karen Bass the next mayor of the city of Los Angeles because she will be a mayor who unites the city, rather than divides the city, to address the many issues that plague our city.


Bass chooses to remain positive, despite the many negative ads the Caruso campaign is throwing at her.  “We should win this election.  We should not allow someone to buy this election,” said Karen Bass.


“We all already received our ballots so we should think about those people in Alabama, Georgia and in other parts of this country who are having a much more difficult time exercising their God given right to vote and not be silent by not sending in our ballots,” she added.


Election day is less than a week away as of Sentinel press time and the Los Angeles Sentinel encourages everyone to turn in your ballots today, don’t wait because tomorrow is not promised and our futures start today!