Robert K. Ross, President & CEO The California Endowment




December 9, 2022 VIA FedEx Delivery


The Honorable Karen Bass, Mayor-Elect, City of Los Angeles

The Honorable Paul Krekorian, Council President, Los Angeles City Council

200 N. Spring St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Dear Mayor-Elect Bass and President Krekorian,


This communication expresses the collective sentiments and concerns of select African-American leadership in community of Los Angeles.  We are profoundly troubled by the reality that Anti-Black racism has been alive and well in segments of our very own City Council.  Further, that certain Latino members of the Council – with a track record of expressed leadership support in social justice – were the very perpetrators of recorded vile, hurtful, and reprehensible anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Semitic commentary.  This represented an exceedingly somber moment in the history of racial justice in our beloved Los Angeles.


So, we collectively rally to pose and answer the question: Where do we go from here?


Our call-to-action involves three key steps.


First, all members of the City Council who participated in this vile and hurtful recorded conversation should no longer serve as members of the Council.  This City Council specifically – and our Greater Los Angeles community generally – cannot pivot towards a path of meaningful healing, restoration, and reconciliation until this occurs, and we express this position in the strongest possible terms.


Secondly, and related to the first needed action step, the Council must embark on structural reforms in an effort to re-establish and re-gain the public’s trust.  This would include one clearly needed step, and the serious consideration of another.  The Council must seek and invite the creation of an independent body and process to assume responsibility for the development of a redistricting plan for the City of Los Angeles.  The plotting and words of the three Councilmembers has undermined and even decimated any semblance of trust that a redistricting process stewarded and prosecuted by this Council will not irreparably harm the African-American community.  The matter of fair and equitable representation for all communities must be fully served, with optimal input and participation by community residents and grassroots organizations across our region.  Further, such an independent entity or newly formed Commission must articulate a strong set of social justice- and equity-minded values to guide its work; an expression of addressing anti-Black racism specifically — and structural racism generally — should be core to this entity’s set of values.


Relatedly, the Council should explore whether increasing the number of Council seats would further enhance meaningful representation for the residents of Los Angeles – with racial equity and fairness in mind.  This could, or might not be, part of an Independent Commission’s charge.


Thirdly, it is our strongly held view that the roadmap to meaningful and durable racial healing and reconciliation goes through our neighborhoods — and the community residents, leaders, and organizations who engage in the business of multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition building to promote and advance full inclusion, shared prosperity, economic opportunity, wellness, and equity.  Rather than the vile and hateful words expressed by certain members of the City Council, it is the work of these leaders and organizations who embody and characterize the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Beloved Community” as a vision for our nation: full, unapologetic and complete inclusion.  The work of these leaders and organizations must be recognized, celebrated, elevated, and resourced in the months and years ahead.  At a time of extraordinary and worrisome racial division across our nation, Los Angeles must now work to re-establish itself as a beacon of racial justice and full inclusion for the nation.  After this past two months of national and international embarrassment for our community of Los Angeles, only hard work in the form of trust-and relationship-building will heal this deep and painful wound.  Our communities possess the leadership to lead us all down this path.


In closing, we must all bear in mind that indigenous and black peoples contributed to founding the City of Los Angeles, and the track record of multi-racial and multi-cultural coalition building to realize the Los Angeles we experience today is historically strong and deep.  It is the only true path forward.


In solidarity and the spirit of racial healing,


Danny Bakewell, Sr.

President, Bakewell Media Group

Danny Bakewell, Jr.

Los Angeles Sentinel

Judy Belk

President & CEO

The California Wellness Foundation


Jackie Dupont-Walker


WARD Economic Development Corp


Jelani Hendrix


Black LA Young Democrats


Rev. Norman Johnson

First New Christian Fellowship

Robert K. Ross

President & CEO

The California Endowment


Renata Simril

LA 84 Foundation

Rev. William Smart

Chief Executive Officer


April Verrett


National AFL-CIO


*Please note: Affiliations listed for identification purpose only. 



cc:  The Honorable Curren Price

The Honorable Marqueece Harris-Dawson

The Honorable Heather Hutt