Monday, July 4, 2022
George McKenna Campaign Under Attack
By Danny J. Bakewell, Jr. – Executive Editor
Published July 24, 2014

Long time educator and child advocate George McKenna didn’t know his over 40 years of service on the front lines and in the trenches of education in some of California’s poorest and most underserved schools and school districts was a piece of cake compared to the political road that he would need to travel to the Los Angeles Unified School Board – District #1 seat.  But not even McKenna or any of the community residents he has spent his life fighting for have could have imagined that the reputation and credibility of one of the nation’s leading educators would have come under attack in such a brutal and shameful way as it has in recent political mailings from his opponent Alex Johnson. 

Community Outraged over lies, innuendo and propaganda  


Long time educator and child advocate George McKenna didn’t know his over 40 years of service on the front lines and in the trenches of education in some of California’s poorest and most underserved schools and school districts was a piece of cake compared to the political road that he would need to travel to the Los Angeles Unified School Board – District #1 seat.  But not even McKenna or any of the community residents he has spent his life fighting for have could have imagined that the reputation and credibility of one of the nation’s leading educators would have come under attack in such a brutal and shameful way as it has in recent political mailings from his opponent Alex Johnson.  The accusations levied by the Alex Johnson for School Board Campaign and his supporters through an independent expenditure campaign have released a scathing array of accusations against the longtime educator, from blaming him for the child molestation charges which have plagued all of LAUSD for several years, to the state take-over of Inglewood and Compton Unified School Districts (the truth is McKenna left Inglewood Unified in 1994 and the state took over Inglewood in 2013. The State took over Compton Unified in 1993 and the state administrator brought McKenna in to repair the troubled district). 

“George McKenna’s track record speaks for itself; he is a man of unquestionable character and integrity who has always put children first,” Congresswoman Karen Bass.

“He has spent a lifetime fighting long and hard to make sure our kids have a level playing field.  He has committed his life to insuring equal opportunities for Black and Brown kids and all underprivileged and underserved children in the field of education.  His reputation is beyond reproach” stated Congresswoman Karen Bass.”

Rev. Jewett L. Walker, Jr.  manager for the Elect McKenna Campaign and who served for years as the campaign director for former LAUSD Representative Marguerite Poindexter- LaMotte who passed away in December 2013 stated, “there’s a word to describe this type of dirty campaigning: SHAMEFUL!”   The Alex Johnson Campaign is engaging in the worst kind of politics a lie-and-smear campaign or “poli-tricks” – which we can only assume his chief endorsers and sponsors condone.” 

[pull quote]

“There’s a word to describe this type of dirty campaigning: SHAMEFUL!”


“Our community has never witnessed an outrageous smear campaign against a candidate such as the Alex Johnson Campaign is waging against Dr. George McKenna.  The community must reject these kinds of lies and distortions against Dr. George McKenna who is a nationally known, successful and respected educator.  Furthermore Alex Johnson is neither knowledgeable or experienced or credible as an educator.  THIS IS IT.  He needs to quit it,” stated Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

George McKenna almost won the June Primary Election outright with over 44% of the vote compared to Alex Johnson’s 24%. He has been engaged in a heated battle to the August 12 special election finish line since the June 3 primary ended.  While Johnson has outraised McKenna 2 to 1 in money, mostly coming from large corporate donors and charter school advocate groups, the community and the residents of the district clearly appear to be supporting McKenna.   McKenna has received the endorsement of almost all of his opponents from the District 1 primary election including Genethia Hudley-Hayes, LAUSD Board of Education(ret.), School Teacher Rachel Johnson – Gardena Councilmember & Hattie McFrazier-LAUSD Educator/Pupil Services and Attendance Counselor (ret.).  McKenna has also been endorsed by former school board member and city council woman Rita Walters, UTLA, The Democratic Party just to name a few.

The latest slate of mailers sent out last week by the Johnson Campaign and other organizations supporting Johnson don’t appear to be promoting Johnson or his qualifications.  Instead they are attacking McKenna’s credibility and giving no credence to the years of leadership and service that he has provided to the children of our community.   Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Presiding Bishop of the 5th Episcopal District of the AME Church stated that “Dr. McKenna is a man of unquestionable, integrity, character and experience who has always put our children’s best interest first to question or try and taint his integrity is disgraceful.”

“As a veteran campaign manager I can tell you that when a candidate loses a primary by 20 points, like Alex Johnson did, there is no clear path to victory in the runoff,” said Walker.

“Over the last several days Mr. Johnson and his supporters have revealed his plan: smear the good name of George McKenna.”

His powerful boss/political sponsor, has cut deals with billionaires and special interests to raise a boatload of money to flood the district with mailers and doorknockers that seek to trash the reputation that McKenna spent decades building by honorably serving our community. The good news is the Johnson campaign has no defense for McKenna’s greatest weapon: THE TRUTH.”

McKenna’s reputation as an educator is unquestionable. Upon arriving in Southern California from his native New Orleans, he was assigned to Washington High School in Los Angeles in 1979 when the school was besieged with violence, drugs and gangs. When he was done nearly 80 percent of the students went on to college.

This track record of success inspired the award-winning CBS movie, The George McKenna Story, starring Denzel Washington.  He is passionate about education and the many children who are trapped in despair.  This is a man who has received more than 400 citations and awards from civic, legislative and professional organizations.  

In 1989, McKenna received the Congressional Black Caucus’ Chairman’s Award and in 1997 was elected into the National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Hall of Fame.  Last week even local advisories joined forces to unify in support of a man so desperately needed that August  12 could not come soon enough. 

Some individuals are risking their reputations to tarnish that of McKenna’s.  George McKenna when asked about the slanderous accusations stated, “I will not be deterred, I will continue to push forward offering an inspiring message of hope for our kids future.  This is the message that is resonating with school age children their parents, teachers and community advocates who are willing to stand up for honesty and integrity.  My campaign and the work I have done around here throughout my life stands on its own.  I have always stood tallest for kids, for education and for this community and I am not going to let false accusations sway me now.”

Gwendolyn Landry a parent and community education advocate stated that “The trickery and lies being asserted by the Alex Johnson Campaign are terrible.  We cannot trust a person who distorts the truth to lead the education of our kids.”

It appears the political wrangling and power politics are just heating up as the campaign enters the last few weeks.  Award winning journalist Betty Pleasant had her weekly Soulvine column pulled at the last minute at another local weekly publication because of her support of McKenna and because of her outrage to the tactics being used by the Johnson Campaign to smear McKenna’s good name.  However, in today’s world of social media the censured column has now gone viral and was emailed, blasted, tweeted, posted on Facebook and other local mediums by community members outraged by this type of blatant disregard for the truth.   Betty has been in the business of community news for a long time and she was totally caught off guard and surprised that her editors refused to run her column.  Reverend Joe B. Hardwick president, Western States Baptist Convention and Pastor of Praises of Zion Church in Watts said “people think they can buy this election, but the truth is, our children, our community, and our future are not for sale.  George has built his reputation and dedicated his life to working for these kids and we are prepared to fight to insure that his legacy of service continues all the way to the school board.”

Community Support for McKenna

Educator and Education Advocates

Mónica Ratliff, LAUSD Board of Education (link)

Dr. Barbara Boudreaux, LAUSD Board of Education (ret.)

Dr. Deborah LeBlanc, Compton Community College District President

Dexter Henderson, Inglewood USD Board of Education President (ret.)

Emma Sharif, Compton USD Board of Education

Gloria Gray, Inglewood USD Board of Education President (ret.)

Bishop Johnny Young, Ph.D., Inglewood USD Board of Education

Joseph Rouzan, Jr., Inglewood USD Board of Education (ret.)

Larry Aubry, Inglewood USD Board of Education (ret.)

Rita Walters, LAUSD Board of Education (ret.)

Sherlett Hendy-Newbill, Dorsey High School Teacher/Coach

Genethia Hudley-Hayes, LAUSD Board of Education President (ret.)

Rachel Johnson, Gardena Councilmember & LAUSD Teacher

Hattie McFrazier, LAUSD Educator/Pupil Services and Attendance Counselor (ret.)


Elected Officials

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Congresswoman Karen Bass

State Senator Kevin Murray (ret.)

Assembly Member Gwen Moore (ret.)

Assembly Member Jackie Goldberg (ret.)

Assembly Member Richard Katz (ret.)

Assembly Member Mike Davis (ret.)

Assembly Member Warren Furutani (ret.)

Carson Mayor Jim Dear

Culver City Mayor Christopher Armenta (ret.)

Gardena Mayor Donald Dear (ret.)

Hawthorne Mayor Chris Brown

Inglewood Mayor James Butts

Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard Parks

Los Angeles City Councilmember David Cunningham, Jr. (ret.)

Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes (ret.)

Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry (ret.)

Los Angeles City Councilmember Nick Pacheco, Jr. (ret.)

Los Angeles City Councilmember Robert Farrell (ret.)

Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge

Water Replenishment District Director Lynn Dymally

Water Replenishment District Director Willard Murray, Jr.

 Community Organizations & Community Leaders

Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (link)

California School Employees Association Chapter 500 (link)

California Title I Parent Union

Council of Black Administrators PAC

Los Angeles School Police Association

United Teachers Los Angeles

Dr. Carole Cobb, President, Los Angeles County Alliance of Black School Educators*

Dr. Charlie Knight, Past President, National Alliance of Black School Educators*

Dr. Chris Hickey, Each One Teach One Alliance*

Dr. David Horne, Professor, Cal State University-Northridge*

Doris Dillard, Past President, Council of Black Administrators*

E. Tsehai Farrell, Author & Inglewood USD Teacher (ret.)

Dr. Ernie Smith, Professor of Linguistic Studies

Gayle Gordon, President, Empowering our Community*

Dr. Janet Clark, Principal, Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center* (ret.)

Dr. Luther Henderson, III, Professor of Music & Humanities, Los Angeles City College*

Dr. Maulana Karenga, Creator of Kwanzaa, Chair of Africana Studies at CSU-Long Beach* & African-American Cultural Center-LA*

Rev. Dr. Michael Hopwood, Chair, Education is a Civil Right Committee*

Dr. Owen Knox, Co-Founder, Council of Black Administrators*

Robert Skeels, Education Activist

Dr. Rosalyn S. Heyman, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction, LAUSD* (ret.)

Dr. Samuel Shacks, M.D. Ph.D., Director, LAUSD Student Medical Services* (ret.)

Tony Camacho, State Executive Director, Association of Mexican American Educators*

Tony Hicks, Chair, Black Parent Union*

William Johnston, Former Superintendent, LAUSD*

Yolande Beckles, No Black Parent Left Behind*


Los Angeles Sentinel

L.A. Watts Times

Los Angeles Times

La Opinión

 Political Party Endorsements

Los Angeles County Democratic Party

Gardena Valley Democratic Party

New Frontier Democratic Club

 Education Organizations & Leaders

Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives

Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance

Latino Coalition PAC

Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association (link to pdf)

Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor, Los Angeles Wave Newspapers*

Beverly Roberts, Reparations United Front of Los Angeles*

Bobbie Jean Anderson, Vice Chair, L.A. County Democratic Party*

Brenda Marsh-Mitchell, President, Mothers In Action*

Carolyn Fowler, Secretary, L.A. County Democratic Party*

Celes King, IV, Vice Chair, Congress of Racial Equality-California*

Chimbuko Tembo, Vice Chair, The Organization Us*

Clifton W. Albright, Esq.

Clinton Simmons, Los Angeles County Aviation Commissioner*

Colleen Mason Heller, President, Cheviot Hills Homeowners Association*

Connye Thomas, President, 10th District Women’s Steering Committee*

Courtney Driver, President, California Young Dems Black Caucus*

Damien Goodmon, Executive Director, Crenshaw Subway Coalition*

Danny Bakewell, Sr., Publisher, Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper

Delilah Lanoix, President, SMS Transportation Services, Inc.*

Dove Savage Pinkney, Past President, New Frontier Democratic Club*

Dr. Edward Savage, Jr., M.D.

Elizabeth Badger, Executive Board, California Democratic Party*

Erin Aubry Kaplan, Author & Journalist

Geneva Phillips-Beaver, President, MLK Democratic Club*

Greg Akili, Institute of the Black World 21st Century*

Gwen Green, Civil Rights Activist

Gwendolyn Cross, President, California Women 4 Women

Jackie Ryan, Past President, Leimert Park Village Merchants Association*

Jacquelynn Hawthorne, President, L.A. African American Women PAC*

James Ahn, Founder, Pacific American Volunteer Association*

Jamie Wright, Esq., Board Member, Medical Board of California*

Jasmyne Cannick, Community Activist

Joan Graham, President, Women on Target*

John W. Harris, Esq., Principal, Harris & Associates*

John Jake, President, Olympic Park Neighborhood Council*

Lonnell McBroom, President, Knights of Peter Claver Western States Coordinating Councils & Courts*

Margaret Bowers, Ladera Heights Civic Association*

Melvin Morris

Merle Davis, Holman United Methodist Church Women’s Auxiliary*

Dr. Michael Batie, President, Los Angeles Council of Black Professional Engineers*

Michelle Turner, President, USC Black Alumni Association*

Pat Means, Publisher, Turning Point Publications*

Patt Sanders, Chair, L.A. County Democratic Party 62nd AD*

Paulette Simpson-Gipson, President, NAACP Compton Branch*

Raul Claros, President, Latino Coalition of Los Angeles PAC*

Rickey Ivie, Chair, UCLA Black Alumni Association*

Robbin Proutt, Vice Chair, California Democratic Party African-American Caucus*

Scott Suh, President, Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council*

Sharon Roby, Executive Director, Phenomenal Angels of the Community*

Steve Bagby, President, Dorsey High School Alumni Association*

Terri Tippit, Chair, Westside Neighborhood Council*

Tim Watkins, Executive Director, Watts Labor Community Action Committee*

Tony Wafford, I Choose Life Health & Wellness Center*

Vincent Samuels, President, Washington Prep Alumni Association*

Windy Barnes Farrell, Singer & Director, Windy City Entertainment*

Winnifred Jackson, President, Hyde Park Organizational Partnership for Empowerment*

 Religious Leaders

Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Presiding Bishop, 5th Episcopal District AME*

Rev. Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick, President, Western States Baptist Convention*

Rev. Donald Wilson, True Way Missionary Baptist Church*

Bishop Dr. K. Donnell Smith, Greater Chosen Temple Christian Fellowship*

Bishop James Walker, Presiding Bishop, 9th District CME*

Rev. Jewett Walker, Jr., New Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church*

Rev. Norman Copeland, Presiding Elder, 5th Episcopal District AME*

Rev. Dr. Reginald Pope, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church*

Rev. Dr. Roy Petit, Miracle Center Apostolic Church*

Rev. Tyrone Skinner, Metropolitan Baptist Church*

Rev. Virgil Jones, Calvary Baptist Church*

Rev. Dr. E. Wayne Gaddis, Sr., President, California Missionary Baptist State Convention*




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