A beautiful service in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was held at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) on January 18, in the St. Robert’s Auditorium.
The interfaith service brought together students, faculty, and staff to recognize civil rights activist and Los Angeles Sentinel Executive Publisher, Danny Bakewell Sr. on his outstanding work for Black people as well as the city of Los Angeles. While the event honored Martin Luther King Jr., it also discussed his legacy and how activists like Bakewell continue on his legacy.
“We must remember that civil rights and social justice work is not over. We must live the name of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Breanna Taylor, and George Floyd, and so many others. It is a signal that our work is so impactful,” stated Loyola Marymount Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Kawanna Leggett in her introduction. “And it means that we must continue to put our hearts and souls in making change because the work is not done.”
She also stated in her introduction that, “you can use your experience to create the world you’d want to live in. By having this conversation with Danny Bakewell Sr., we are living in the world Martin Luther King Jr. fought for.”
Special music was performed by Loyola Marymount student Elijah Ross and Faith Williams performed the Black National anthem. Rabbi Zachary Zysman led the room in prayer, and LMU President Timothy Law Snyder and LMU Student and Political Science/ African Studies double major Mariah Allen welcomed the celebrated guest and audience.
During the discussion, which was hosted by Associate Professor and Chair of African American Studies at LMU Dr. Marne Campbell, Bakewell discussed the importance of showing up, both for and in the Black community.
“We can cause change by being the change,” stated Bakewell, “which requires us to do both well and good at the same time.”
He continued, “You cannot talk about change without talking to someone. The places where we put our entity, we create change.”
Bakewell reminisced on his own upbringing during the service, telling a story on how people used to live with segregation without question when he’d grown up. It wasn’t until he began to question treatment towards Black people, in his adulthood, that differences started happening.
“These things [racism] subtly happen in our society, and sometimes when I look around today, I see the same thing. It’s just under a different color under a different shade, but there’s not much difference,” shared Bakewell. “I want everyone here who’s concerned about building a better world, a better society, to look around a see can we find a better lightning?”
Bakewell also went on to discuss the reality of the Black community, today, stating that while we are doing better, Black people still need help.
“It’s important that we as a people recognize where we are, and not trick ourselves to believing we’re higher than we are. We’re doing better, there’s Black billionaires and millionaires that have come out of the Black community, and we’re very appreciative of them, but we need to look at the masses of the Black community.”
He continued, “Everyday, everyone has somebody already advocating for them. It’s Black people that don’t have people advocating for us. The places where we put our interest and our energy, we can make change, but we got to do that.”
The inspired students had the opportunity to ask Bakewell questions about his life and legacy, as well ask how Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy affected his civil activism and career.
Freshman Leila Lemeur asked Bakewell during the service:
“How do you choose between staying in a hostile environment and promoting change, versus leaving for a better opportunity for success and mental wellness?”
Bakewell responded, “I didn’t get involved into the Civil Rights Movement until I had a family, and I was in a different place. But I was so committed, that doing this no longer became an option. You have to keep at it. Eventually it will become a part of you.
“It goes back to doing well and doing good at the same time. You have to pursue what you want for you and your family, and hold yourself to still creating a way for community and your people.”
The service concluded with Loyola Marymount University gifting Danny Bakewell Sr. with a special Martin Luther King Jr. award at the end of the service. Bakewell closed the service with an influential rendition of the poem “Our Deepest Fear” by Marriane Williamson.