Senator Laphonza Butler, center, met with publishers of the Black press at the L.A. Sentinel office. Attendee included, from left, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Terri Sanders, Terri Sanders, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Bob Bogle, Jackie Hampton, and Bobby R. Henry, Sr. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Black publishers from across the country, leaders and students at CSUDH, and celebrating Black History Month in L.A. Council Chambers were all part of the Senators visit to the Southland.

California U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler has moved with urgency to address constituent concerns since her appointment to the position in Oct. 2023 by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In the past five months, she has conducted listening sessions across the state with people of all ages on topics including mental health, reproductive freedom, and the future of our democracy.

Los Angeles Councilmember Heather Hutt and Mayor Karen Bass hold breakfast honoring Senator Laphonza Butler in Mayor Conference Room.
L-R: CM Curren Price Jr., CW Heather Hutt, Laphonza Butler, CW Imelda Padilla, CM Bob Blumenfield
Los Angeles City Council Meeting in Los Angeles City Hall, John Ferraro Council Chamber.

On Feb. 26, she visited Southern California to attend a meeting of National Newspaper Publishers Association (Black Press of America) hosted by NNPA Chairman Emeritus and Sentinel Executive Publisher Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., to discuss issues and challenges Black media from across the country are having with doing business with the federal government.

Sen. Butler reads the latest news in the L.A. Sentinel. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

“We are so appreciative that Senator Butler would take time out of her busy schedule to come and meet with Black Publishers from across the nation,” said Bakewell.

“Laphonza Butler, even before her historic appointment, has always been an advocate of the Black press and we are confident that she will take the concerns of publishers from across the country back to the Washington D.C. and advocate for the Black press that our voices and constituency should and will be included in national advertising throughout the country,” he added.

NNPA President Dr. Benjamin Chavis also considered the meeting to productive and laid the foundation for similar gatherings in the future.

L.A. Sentinel staff pose with Sen. Butler and NNPA publishers. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

“The National Newspaper Publishers Association was pleased to have in-depth discussion with The Honorable U.S Senator LaPhonza Butler in Los Angeles.  We were graciously hosted by Bakewell Media and the Los Angeles Sentinel,” said Dr. Chavis.

“Senator Butler is a freedom fighter and the NNPA welcomes the opportunity to work with Senator Butler in the interests of freedom, justice and equality.”

Sen. Butler is briefed by Dr. Thomas Parham, president of CSUDH. (Matt Brown)

Other attendees at the NNPA meeting were NNPA Chairman Bobby R. Henry Sr., publisher of The Westside Gazette in Fort Lauderdale, FL; NNPA 2nd Vice Chair Jackie Hampton, publisher of Mississippi Link in Jackson MS.; Paul Cob, publisher of Post News Group in Oakland, CA; NNPA Board Member Terri Sanders, publisher of The Omaha Star; and former NNPA Chairman Bob Bogle, publisher of The Philadelphia Tribune.

Dr. Parham introduces Butler during the town hall at CSUDH. (Matt Brown)

Following her visit to Crenshaw Blvd. and the Los Angeles Sentinel office, the Senator traveled to Carson to the campus of California State University – Dominguez Hills, where she met with Dr. Thomas Parham, president of CSUDH, and participated in a town hall on mental health hosted by the Born This Way Foundation.

The event brought together youth mental health advocates, students, faculty, and administrators for a panel discussion on ways to better identify the mental health needs of young people and improve the quality and availability of services in the spaces where they’re most needed.

More than 200 students listen as Butler speaks about her journey in life. (Matt Brown)

She partnered with BTW, Butler said, “because the most effective and lasting solutions to the challenges facing young people are the ones that are formed and invested in together. [These are the] solutions where we all feel heard and seen, and where we know that we are collectively trying to make a difference.”

The Senator added, “The Honorable Shirley Chisholm reminded us that ‘service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.’”

More than 200 students listen as Butler speaks about her journey in life. (Matt Brown)

Reacting to Butler’s remarks, Dr. Parham said, “Senator Butler, in my opinion, continue to pay that rent by serving this nation, her state, and her community. She came to CSUDH to listen, understanding that it is difficult to design community interventions in absence of consultation with the people the interventions are designed to serve.”

Parham noted that Butler is the first sitting U.S. Senator to visit the campus since 1977 when then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden stopped by the campus.

“We were proud to host Sen. Butler, knowing that your Cal State University Dominguez Hills should be the place where important issues like mental health become the topics of critical discourse and analysis,” stated Parham.

Sen. Butler was also recognized by the Los Angeles City Council as part of the city’s 2024 Black History Month Celebration.  On Feb. 23, the Council saluted her contributions to the city of Los Angeles and the country as a whole.

Commending Butler’s ethics and integrity, Councilwoman Heather Hutt said, “This Black History Month, it’s important that the city recognizes the individuals who contribute to the Black community and Black History.

“Senator Laphonza Butler is a remarkable trailblazer who advocates for the American worker, equality, and the future that our next generation deserves. Her successful achievements have had a huge impact on the people of our City and State. I am honored to give her flowers.”

Echoing those sentiments, Councilman Curren Price insisted, “Sen. Laphonza Butler embodies a larger-than-life presence, leading with urgency, compassion, and great determination. She is a powerhouse for working families, a titan in the realm of labor and it is no surprise that her name is cemented in the history of labor issues, fighting tooth and nail to better the lives of our most vulnerable working–class families.

“Sen. Butler stood shoulder to shoulder with me and my team, championing the wage increase and paid sick leave. She was a driving force behind this change and many other great labor policies, and she continues to champion progress in the Senate, ensuring a brighter future for us all.”

Throughout her visit, Butler repeatedly committed to representing all California citizens to the best of her ability during her time in the U.S. Senate.