The Biddy Mason celebration included, from left are Diane Mitchell Henry, founder/chair; Juanita Crattic, honoree; Azzie Imuanel standing in for Bennie Jones, honoree; Mabel Wesley, honoree; and Dr. Kathye Jenkins, co-chair. (Courtesy photo) 

Event saluted legacy of the former slave who donated land in 1872 to establish First AME Church of L.A.

The 200th birthday of Bridget “Biddy” Mason sparked a big celebration in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 11.

The Women’s Group of Greater Los Angeles County (WGGLA) joined with the Cynthia Perry Ray Foundation (CPRF) to recognize the legacy of Mason, a former slave, nurse, philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur, who donated the land in 1872 to establish First AME Church of L.A.

The event, officially called the 4th Annual Call For Boldness, was held at the Biddy Mason Memorial Park located at 3rd and Spring Streets. In addition to honoring Mason, WGGLA saluted seven African American women who were 100-years-old or more.

“They are unsung sheroes whose experiences and challenges were greeted with bold spirit-led wisdom and steadfast determination that propelled them to pursue their goals and achieve their many accomplishments,” said Diane Mitchell Henry, WGGLA founder.

The honorees were Gertrude Thelma Burdette, Juanita Crattic, Julia A. Duncan, Juanita Hughes, Vester L. Jamerson, Bennie Lee Jones, Hattie L. Minor, Gertrude T. Poston and Mabel Wesley.

Program participants in the included Jan Perry, general manager of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department; Alvita E. Smith, U. S. Postal Service consultant; and keynote speaker, Wendy Gladney, CEO/president of Wendy’s Enterprises.

In addition, Myeoshe Edwards, Dynesha Lucas, Shecara Vardiman and Azizi Williams of the Young Leaders of Greater Los Angeles County presented a dramatic reading of Pearl Cleage’s poem, “We Speak Your Names.”

The entertainment featured Denise Lyles-Cook, Oracle, Karen Bankhead, harpist Maia, The Mighty, Mighty Travelers Men’s Gospel Group; saxophonist Dee Holland, and poet Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely.

Acknowledging Mason’s contributions to history, Dr. Kathye Jenkins, CPRF founder and president, said, “What a dynamic soul who has left a tremendous legacy that will inspire for generations to come! It was a wonderful experience to be a part of remembering a great woman of faith.”

Mitchell Henry added, “This celebration was also a platform to inspire and engage guests to be bold, be brave, be brilliant to be better advocates for social and economic justice.”