Joining with City Council leaders, Mayor honors Angelenos for outstanding contributions to law, education, government, and culture.
Mayor Eric Garcetti today kicked off the annual celebration of African American Heritage Month, with ceremonies at City Hall to recognize and honor the contributions of black history-makers and organizations.
The 2016 African American Heritage Month kickoff opened with a ceremony inside City Council Chambers with City Council President Herb J. Wesson, Jr. and the Los Angeles City Council, City Controller Ron Galperin, the Department of Cultural Affairs, Our Authors Study Club, and the 2016 African American Heritage Month Committee.
“Black history is central to everyone’s history: Humanity itself rose from the continent of Africa. People of African descent were integral to the building of civilization, the founding of our nation, and the establishment of this city,” said Mayor Garcetti. “I am grateful for all of the passion that our City Council leaders have put into making African American Heritage Month special for all Angelenos. It gives our entire city an opportunity to reflect more deeply on these achievements, share the history with our children, and celebrate together in a spirit of unity, respect, and understanding.”
At the opening ceremony, Mayor Garcetti presented the Living Legend Award to Lionel Richie — a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, and philanthropist who has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and earned an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and four Grammys. Three other leaders were presented with Hall of Fame Awards for Law, Education, and Government, respectively: the Honorable Audrey Collins, Associate Justice, California Court of Appeals; Dr. Willie J. Hagan, President of California State University, Dominguez Hills; and Jerome E. Horton, Chairman of the California State Board of Equalization.
“It is with immense pride that I join the Mayor and City Council in celebration of the numerous contributions African Americans have made to our city and country,” said Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson, Jr., the first African American to be elected Los Angeles City Council president. “This month marks an opportunity to reflect on both the progress that has been made and the work that must be done in the name of equality.”
During the opening ceremony, Mayor Garcetti joined City Council President Wesson and Councilmembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson to unveil the 2016 African American Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide, which is produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs. The Guide includes listings of special events being held across the City, and showcases artwork by emerging and established African American artists. It is available online at www.culturela.org and at www.laheritagemonth.org.
“Growing up, I was blessed to have inspirational role models inside and outside of my home — individuals like my parents, icons such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others who ignited hope in me,” said Councilmember Curren Price. “As we celebrate African American Heritage Month and the contributions of some of the greatest American heroes of all time, I encourage today’s youth to find real-life mentors who help shape their future. Let’s continue writing our history because while we have come far, more work remains today and for our future leaders."
As part of the festivities, a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Our Authors Study Club, a co-sponsor of African American Heritage Month and one of 53 branches of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History founded by Black History Month founder Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The organization’s mission is to research, preserve, interpret, and disseminate information about African American life, history, and culture.
“I’m proud to join my colleagues in recognizing African-American Heritage Month. It is a time-honored tradition of recognizing the achievements and cultural contributions of the people of the African Diaspora,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “It’s so important to highlight the indelible mark individuals and groups have left on our society. In culture, science, civil society, commerce and the arts, excellence has been a hallmark of so many individuals of African descent. It deserves to be recognized, praised and celebrated.”
About African American Heritage Month
Since February 1950, when Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron issued the first citywide proclamation honoring and recognizing the contributions of African Americans, residents throughout the city have celebrated Black History Month. These celebrations create awareness about the struggles and triumphs of African Americans in education, science, the arts, sports and other fields.