Councilmember Heather Hutt leads the crowd in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open New Orleans Corridor. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

5 – Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., a New Orleans native, deliver uplifting comments while Martin Ludlow, left, and Mayor James Butts and Karen Bass listen. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)  

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Councilwoman Heather Hutt 

On Saturday, June 17, just two days before Juneteenth, Los Angeles City Councilmember Heather Hutt, and the Los Angeles Jazz Festival Foundation hosted the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly named “New Orleans Corridor,” which stretches from Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church to Harold & Belle’s Creole Restaurant, both on Jefferson Boulevard in South L.A. 

The New Orleans Corridor honors the historical migration of Creole and African American families from Louisiana to their settling in Los Angeles during a violently tumultuous period in the South.  

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and more joined other dignitaries and musicians to mark the special occasion. 

Hundreds of people joined the march down Jefferson Boulevard in South L.A. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Saturday’s temperature certainly matched the sunny and hot New Orleans weather. With many dressed in decorative New Orleans fashion, guests surrounded the front of the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church to watch as the speakers and performers celebrated the special occasion. 

The event started off with prayer, followed by a musical number by “The Freedom Choir.” 

Describing the occasion, Hutt called it “freedom weekend – where we are celebrating Juneteenth, where we are celebrating freedom, where we are celebrating prosperity!”  

Bass exclaimed, “What a glorious day in L.A.,” as she thanked Hutt and Mayor Cantrell for their collaboration on the event.  She emphasized that “we don’t erase history, we celebrate history,” and how Saturday was part of acknowledging history and its past and its current form. 

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, left, and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass display the new street sign. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Cantrell informed attendees that she is a Los Angeles native and is now the “fearless leader and 30-year resident of New Orleans.” She gave the audience a brief background on the history of cultural migration and the second great migration. She continued her speech acknowledging her maternal and paternal family and how they played a pivotal role in who she is today. 

It was through my paternal family that I learned the importance of community; learned the importance of who I was as a person and of course education,” she stated.  

“But it was also my maternal grandmother from right here who taught me the importance of community involvement and grassroots organizing.” 

Elaborating on her family’s story, Cantrell noted, “But, that paternal family I speak about is from Birmingham, Alabama, right in the center. As the Mayor(Bass) mentioned that her family came through Texas, my maternal family came through Texas, but my paternal family came through Birmingham, but all deeply rooted in that migration. But, what we’re celebrating here is the real tradition between the city of New Orleans and that of Los Angeles.” 

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, left, and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass display the new street sign. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Also in attendance was Laker legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who announced that he was a UCLA Medical Center Board Member. Kareem expressed how he was really happy to be at the event to celebrate Juneteenth. 

“Events like this promote healing and lets people know there is help, and it’s available,” Kareem said. 

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr, founder of The Bakewell Company and executive publisher of the L.A. Sentinel, introduced the cutting of the ribbon ceremony.  Immediately following, Hutt, Bass, Cantrell, and the other speakers led a New Orleans style ‘Second Line’ featuring the New Orleans Brass Band and a local brass band from the Fernando Pullum Youth Arts Center in South LA.  

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sharing encouraging remarks. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

With pure excitement, smiles, and lively energy, a plethora of attendees walked from the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church to Harold & Belle’s to enjoy a live musical performance from artists representing both Los Angeles and New Orleans.  

Performers included Grammy Award-winning trumpeter from New Orleans, Irvin Mayfield, Crenshaw District raised/three-time Grammy-nominated artist, Terrace Martin, and ensemble group led by Grammy Award-winning L.A. natives, Larrance Dopson and James Fauntleroy II. TV/radio Personality Dominique DiPrima emceed the three-hour event. 

Earlier festivities included the Juneteenth Nike Keeping It Run Hundred 5K Race at Leslie N. Shaw Park.