Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price along with the entire LA City Council recognized the Taste of Soul (TOS) family food festival team and Hyundai Motor Company on Monday, May 21, at City Council Chambers.
In twelve years, the Taste of Soul food festival has become South L.A.’s national treasure, breaking every attendance record in the country for a festival of its kind, with over 350,000 mostly African Americans in attendance on Crenshaw Blvd. The festival bridges small food establishments, city and state officials, resource-based organizations, stellar entertainment, with a faithful community-base who respond in massive numbers each year.
Last year, Zafar Brooks, director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity Inclusion at Hyundai, teamed up with Danny Bakewell Sr., Taste of Soul founder and Mothers In Action, to give away a brand new 2018 Hyundai Sonata to the winners of the Hyundai Better L.A. Competition. The winning couple are foster parents, work in the non-profit sector and use their new car to help build a better L.A. through their various social causes.
Council President Wesson and Councilmembers Harris-Dawson and Price are co-chairs of the festival, which functions in the districts of Wesson and Dawson. Harris-Dawson thanked the Bakewell family for the gift of Taste of Soul. “I can’t emphasize enough colleagues, how big of a deal this is for the City of Los Angeles. It is the biggest block party anywhere in the state of California,” he said.
Harris-Dawson also recognized Hyundai for its involvement in the community for years; he remembered the company’s generous donations of multiple vehicles to the Community Coalition and a host of community organizations.
Wesson recounted when the festival was a just a thought of Bakewell Sr.’s, to how it has mushroomed into one of the top one-day events in the county. “The man behind this event, the man that knew that [in] South L.A., we could all come together and have a special day where we can show off our wears, show off our culture, and show off our community to thousands of people from all over the great City of Los Angeles. “
Bakewell Sr. thanked Brooks and Hyundai Motors for approaching TOS and for their unwavering commitment and support to the festival and community. “[Brooks] sat down with us and asked what our needs were. In partnership with the festival, gave the community a car and they are giving away one this year,” he said. Hyundai also sponsored the heralded StarQuest stage, an annual singing competition for local artist, as well as a free concert event featuring popular artists.
“Not only is [Taste of Soul] a great family festival, it is the number one economic small business fair in all of California. We cannot say enough how much we appreciate the City Council and the kind of leadership you provide for the community,” he said. Yes, it’s Taste of Soul; we are clearly in the heart of the African American Community but we say, ‘it’s our home, where everyone is welcome.’ And they do come.”
According the Bakewell Sr., in the 12 years of producing the event, “there has never been an incident at Taste of Soul and that’s a tribute to our public officials, the City, police and fire departments.”
Brooks thanked the City Council and Council President Wesson for their acknowledgment of Hyundai and thanked Bakewell Sr.. “This couldn’t happen without Danny Bakewell Sr., who deserves all the credit for his leadership and the Bakewell media group, and what they’ve done for a lot of years,” Brooks said.
“We (Hyundai) are proud Californians and we enjoy this community,” Brooks said. “So, it is consistent with our values to be connected to Taste of Soul. We believe we are better together to do good things that help to elevate and amplify the community.”
Brooks revealed the company’s plan to give away their newest SUV vehicle, the 2019 Kona at this year’s festival in the fall.
Pamela Bakewell, COO of Bakewell Media, gave a special tribute to Brenda Marsh-Mitchell, who was the President of TOS and Mothers In Action before her passing and mentioned the benevolent actions of Marsh-Mitchell’s daughter Tracy Mitchell. Mitchell serves as president of Mothers In Action. “Tracy makes sure that our funding is used throughout the year for various causes, from scholarships, back-to-school events, to seniors and homeless feeding crusades,” she said.
Bakewell Sr. addressed the Council a final time. “[Taste of Soul] could have not have happened without Herb Wesson and the entire Los Angeles City Council. From the start, Wesson, his ear, his belief that the community would respect and come out to support something in our own community is the reason Taste of Soul is successful today,” he said.
Taste of Soul is scheduled for Saturday, October 20, 2018. For more information visit www.tasteofsoul.org .
Additional Photos E. Mesiyah McGinnis
This story as been updated with new photos and information.