A Black History Sendoff by Villaraigosa

Rapper/actor LLCool J enjoys a big laugh during a Los Angeles ceremony honoring Black History Month.
Rap per/actor LLCool J enjoys a big laugh during a Los Angeles ceremony honoring Black History Month. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

LOS ANGELES- Los Angeles sure knows how to throw a party. In an official kickoff of Black History Month, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city of Los Angeles celebrated the indomitable presence of several giants in the entertainment industry in front of a packed City Hall crowd. Being honored were actors Levar Burton (Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon series, The Color Purple) and L.L. Cool J (NCIS: Los Angeles).

Villaraigosa, making his last Black History Month presentation after eight years in office bumped and grooved to the drumbeats of Afrikan music before paying tribute to the three stars. Other individuals who were included in the Mayor’s African American Heritage Awards ceremony included Leimert Park Book Fair co-founder Cynthia Exum and Bernard and Shirley Kinsey.

Burton, who was honored with the Spirit of LA award, has gone through a transformation during his acting career since auditioning for and winning the role of Kuta Kinte in the blockbuster miniseries, Roots. A Grammy Award winner for his narrative of the book ,The Autobiography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Burton has garnered acclaim for the PBS series, Reading Rainbow and have landed a plethora of high-profile acting gigs.

Glover, a well-known humanitarian and activist, is the founder of the Pan African Film Festival, the largest black film festival in the United States. Everyone knows about Glover’s strong presence on the big-screen in roles in Witness and The Color Purple, both all-time epic films. But everyone is not aware of the many contributions that Glover have bestowed on other people, fighting poverty and trying to improve economic conditions around the globe, particularly in Africa and Latin America.

Actor Danny Glover shares a moment with his wife while Levar Burton looks on. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman
Actor Danny Glover shares a moment during the city of Los Angeles’ Black History Month ceremony with his wife Eliane Cavalleiro while Levar Burton looks on. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

The recipient of the 2011 “Pioneer Award” from the National Civil Rights Museum, Glover was feted with the Dream of LA nod. In the shot of the future, L.L. Cool J was given the Hope of LA award. An accomplished rapper turned actor, L.L. Cool J has been seen on the screen in movies such as Any Given Sunday, Deliver Us from Eva and S.W.A.T. Todd Smith is a man of many talents, even authoring a New York bestselling book.     

There is some brightness in Los Angeles, despite recent news that has cast a pall over the city. That is the celebration of Black History Month. Many organizations, libraries and companies have found a way to paid homage to the contributions made by African Americans to the city. There are spoken word tributes.

There are libraries like the AC Bilbrew Library-the only library in the city that has Black Resource Center-holding special readings from authors about historic figures such as the late Rev. Ralph Abernathy, the famous sidekick to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the struggle for civil rights. African American history is rich. Let’s hope the city of Los Angeles and the rest of the nation to learn more about the men and women that made this country great.


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