U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and KCBS News Anchor Pat Harvey at the Power, Leadership, and Influence of Black Woman Luncheon.
(Malcolm Ali/L.A. Sentinel)


U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered empowering remarks about women’s rights at the Power, Leadership, and Influence of Black Woman Luncheon sponsored by Bakewell Media and the L.A. Sentinel on April 13.

Harris was a surprise guest at the third annual event, which attracted more than 1,000 people from throughout Southern California.  Radio broadcaster Pat Prescott served as emcee and KCBS News Anchor Pat Harvey was the moderator.

Pat Prescott (Malcolm Ali/L.A. Sentinel)

According to Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., this year’s luncheon recognized the contributions and impact of six outstanding women.  “We are proud to come together to recognize these amazing sheroes who remain steadfast in their selected fields for the betterment of our community,” he said.

The honorees were County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, L.A. Federation of Labor President Yvonne Wheeler, Brotherhood Crusade CEO/President Charisse Bremond-Weaver, Black Lives Matter – L.A. and Grassroots Co-founder Dr. Melina Abdullah, and renowned actress, producer, and businesswoman Marla Gibbs.

Also honored was U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler, who shared insight about issues important to women during an intimate conversation with KCBS News Anchor Pat Harvey.  In fact, it was Harvey’s question about conservative attacks on women’s reproductive rights that prompted Butler to present “one of the biggest champions in this movement” and “one of my best friends” to offer a response.

Danny J. Bakewell Sr., Laphonza Butler, Pat Harvey, and Carmen Roberts. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

The crowd roared with cheers and applause when the vice president took the stage, warmly embracing Butler and Harvey and smiling with joy from the audience’s reaction.  Urging everyone to be seated, Harris donned a serious expression and said, “I just wanted to come by and thank all of you for your voice and for being the role models that you are.  We know that Black women are strong!”

Addressing women’s reproductive rights, V.P. Harris outlined how recent legislation by many states “criminalize healthcare providers, punish women, make no exception for rape or incest” to allow for abortions.

“You are saying to a survivor of a crime of violence to their body, a violation of their body, that they have no right to make a decision about what happens to their body next. That’s immoral,” insisted Harris.

Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell and Mario Holten. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

“When we take a look at the situation, the former president, Donald Trump, hand-selected three members of the U.S. Supreme Court with the intention that they would undo Roe [vs. Wade] and they did exactly as he intended,” said Harris.

“We are not going to be gaslit about what is at play and who is to blame,” the vice president stated.  “But we have the power and we’re not about to let anybody take our power from us. Elections matter and I know we will stand; we will march, we will organize, and we make the ultimate decision in November about what kind of country do we want live in. We all know what we need to do!”

Harris’ remarks were reflective of the determination and commitment of the six legendary Black women for whom the awards were named. Butler received the Brenda Marsh Mitchell Trailblazer Award, Mitchell was presented the Judge Vaino Hassan Spencer Pillar of Justice Award, and Bremond-Weaver was the recipient of the Lillian Mobley Community Catalyst Award.

Charisse Bremond-Weaver and Debra Langford (Malcolm Ali/L.A. Sentinel)
Yvonne Wheeler and Shauna Bradford (Malcolm Ali/L.A. Sentinel)
Dr. Melina Abdullah (Malcolm Ali/L.A. Sentinel)
Pamela Bakewell, Marla Gibbs and Iris Gordy (Malcolm Ali/L.A. Sentinel)

Also, Wheeler was bestowed the Johnnie Tillmon Champion of Economic Equality Award, Abdullah received the Mary B. Henry Civil Rights Activist Award, and Gibbs was presented the Pamela A. Bakewell Inspirational Leader Award.  Another surprise at the event was a mini-concert by the legendary soul group, The Delphonics Experience featuring Norman Carter singing the hits of The Stylistics.

The Bakewell Company and L.A. Sentinel team who organized and executed the Power, Leadership, and Influence of Black Woman Luncheon were Brandi Bakewell, executive vice president and CAO; Nicole Williams, vice president; Amira Elswify, project manager; and Jelani Minix, special events coordinator.

Presenting Sponsors of the luncheon were Wells Fargo, Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC), SEIU Local 2015, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Berry Gordy Foundation for Truth and Justice, Bank of America, and the law firm of Ivie, McNeill, Wyatt, Purcell & Diggs.  CBS2/KCAL served as the media partner.

Other sponsors included SoCalGas, Brotherhood Crusade, The California Endowment, California Teachers Association, Metro, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, LADWP, Providence, Northern Trust, Crenshaw Christian Center, Los Angeles Urban League, Black Lives Matter – Grassroots, Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles, OneLegacy, Cedars-Sinai, Watts Health, Waymo, St. John’s Community Health, Mothers In Action, L.A. County Federation of Labor, Southwest Regional Carpenters Union, U.S. Bank, LAWA, Vallarta, CSU Dominguez Hills, SEIU 721, Superior Grocers, Mary Kay, McDonald’s, California Black Women’s Collective, Evitarus, Wellnest, Stubhub, Loyola Marymount University, and West Basin Municipal Water District.

Nicole Williams, Brandi Bakewell, Amira Elswify, and Jelani Minix (Malcolm Ali/L.A. Sentinel)
The Delphonics Experience featuring Norman Carter singing the hits of The Stylistics. (Malcolm Ali/L.A. Sentinel)