On Sunday, February 11, 2018, First AME Church hosted the 2018 city of Los Angeles African American Heritage Month Worship Service to kick off Black History Month in the city of Los Angeles. Mayor Eric Garcetti kicked off the day’s event paying tribute to those Black leaders who laid the ground work for not only First AME Church but all of Los Angeles. “It is such a privilege to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Mayor Tom Bradley, who paved the way for so many historic moments that we enjoy today here in Los Angeles,” stated Mayor Garcetti.
The church was filled with the who’s who of African American political leadership and included those currently seeking office in and around Los Angeles and the state of California. Pastor J. Edgar Boyd and First Lady Florence Boyd welcomed and paid special tribute to the members of the California Legislative Black Caucus. Members in attendance included the Southern California contingent of state representatives including State Senator Holly Mitchell, State Senator Steve Bradford, Assemblymember Chris Holden (Caucus Chairman), Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (former Caucus Chair), Assemblymember Mike Gipson and Northern California Representative Tony Thurmond.
The significance of the tribute to the California Caucus was bolstered by the fact that the Honorable Frederick M. Roberts, the First African American Legislator in the State of California who served 16-years in the California State Assembly, was a member and an officer of First AME Church of Los Angeles. Assemblyman Roberts also authored the bill to establish UCLA.
The worship service concluded with an inspirational message and the Word of God reading by special guest speaker Bishop Clement W. Fugh, president of the Council of Bishop’s of the AME Church and the Presiding Prelate of the Fifth Episcopal District of the AME Church which encompasses the 14 westernmost States.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Elaine Wakeland, along with members of the Los Angeles Consular Corps and officials from the federal, state, county and local governments, all joined in for the U.S. Postal Service’s special unveiling of the 41st stamp in the Black Heritage stamp series honoring legendary performer and civil rights activist Lena Horne.
Pastor Boyd of First AME said “Lena Horne was a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color and used her fame as an entertainer to become an important civil rights spokesperson.”
The congregation was also treated to a special performance by famed Gospel artist Tremaine Hawkins backed up by the renowned First AME choir.
“Very few churches or people can pull together this level of political power for one event. You had Mayor Eric Garcetti, Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Karen Bass and Congresswoman Nanette Barragon, City Council President Herb Wesson, Councilmembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris Dawson, all the members of the California Legislative Black Caucus and almost every state and city commissioner present as well as almost every person seeking elected office this year. But First AME is a special place and Pastor Boyd left very little doubt that the African American Community needs to be and will always be included in the political structure of Los Angeles and American History,” said Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer former Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus and current representative of the 59th California Assembly District.