For the twelfth year in a row, the Taste of Soul Nation joined members of Bakewell Media and Mothers In Action October 21st on Crenshaw Blvd., at what has become the largest street festival in Los Angeles City & County. With such an enormous task to pull off, Taste of Soul partners make the historic festival possible – LA Sentinel, Brotherhood Crusade, City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, 102.3 KJLH, 94.7 the WAVE, CBS2/KCAL 9 & AAUC. This year may have been the best Taste of Soul yet with returning vendors and new ones added, four stages, all with stellar line-ups and a notable list of sponsors, including Hyundai, McDonald’s and Bank of America. The event, once again, wrapped up at 7:00 p.m. on the boulevard without incident.
“Taste of Soul has grown into the greatest demonstration of all that is uplifting and possible for and within Black communities when we collectively pull our time, resources, and talents for the betterment of all,” said Bakewell Media CEO and TOS founder, Danny Bakewell Sr., as part of this year’s Founder’s Message.
“The millions of people who have enjoyed Taste of Soul over the years send a clear message to everyone, that as businessmen and women, consumers and as a political force, we cannot and will not be ignored or denied.”
Bakewell also took the time to acknowledged the significance of those sponsors and politicians who have been instrumental in making TOS happen.
“Our corporate partners understand the collective power that the Taste of Soul Nation has become,” he said.
“Our political friends realize that the ability to mobilize hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people is a powerful tool that everyone understands and respects. Everyone who is a part of Taste of Soul realizes that there is no greater economic driver in the city for African- American businesses.
“We believe in what Bakewell Media is doing [with Taste of Soul] in making sure our Black businesses are spotlighted; that we know we can recycle our Black dollars right in our own community,” said Eulanda Lynn Matthews, director partner at the law offices of Ivie, McNeil and Wyatt, who joined the list of TOS sponsors for the fifth year in a row.
“I couldn’t be prouder to be here to celebrate with the Crenshaw community, a community that is the heart and soul of Los Angeles,” said former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was in office when the festival began in 2005.
Hyundai’s Director of Corporate Responsibility and Diversity Zafar Brooks said, his company was “very pleased to be involved in Taste of Soul this year.”
“Watching the work that [Danny] Bakewell Sr. has done, has inspired me as an Angeleno,” he said.
“To watch him make this a better place for so many people, has inspired me while watching it from afar …”
“We’ve been coming for about five or six years,” said Joyce, who attended with her husband Malcolm.
“It’s been wonderful. I love how they did the setup for [Children’s World] and the way they made it extra nice [this year]. ”
The couple, like thousands of others, waited in line for exquisitely soulful cuisine, worth every minute and every penny. Their choice: broiled shrimp and creole cuisine from local favorite, Harold and Belle’s.
“I had a ball,” agreed Niecy from Atlanta.
“The Taste of Soul in L.A. was fantastic. I had the best time in my life. We don’t have anything like this in Atlanta …”
Metro, also a major TOS sponsor, was on hand to get people to-and-from the festival, providing rides every 12 minutes and relieving them from the hassle of driving and parking.
Rounding out the festival were major performances on four stages: the Brenda Marsh Mitchell Gospel Stage, sponsored by McDonald’s, Hyundai’s StartQuest, the StarQuest Stage sponsored by Hyundai, 102.3 Radioi Free KJLH and 94.7 the Wave. It was time to go by 6:00 7:00 p.m., though most attendees seemed to linger, either wanting more music or, getting last minute snacks and desserts. For this reporter’s part, funnel cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream ended another amazing TOS experience.