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CBC Confronts FBI Over Report that Could Signal “Open Season On Black Activists PAGE


HOLLYWOOD : Mariah Headlines AHF Concert; Terry Crews Turns Heat Up On Exec Who Groped Him PAGE



L-R: Edward Barnett (PCF Restaurant Mgmt) , Omar Mc Gee (Dubzzter’s Cigar Lounge and Karim Webb (PCF Restaurant Mgmt)


Over 700 Turn Out For First Ever Gentrification Summit Leimert Park was ground zero on gentrification this week>> end as upwards of 700 community residents, activists and representatives of over 40 tenant rights and social justice organizations turned out for the Resist Gentrification Action Summit...

CHURCH NEWS: Faithful Central To Open Campus on Skid Row





December 2017

L.A. Focus Publications

Left: The L.A. Focus 20th Annual First Ladies High Tea Essay Contest Winners; Ivy Hobson, Angella Bobadilla, Samiah Daniels, Eshe Joi Brown, and Reign Singleton; Middle: 20th Annual First Ladies High Tea honorees Morgen Wilbourne (Pacific Crossroads), Regina Taylor (Park Windsor Baptist Church) and Patricia Swancy (Peace Apostolic Church); Right: Robert Bush, Judge Greg Mathis, Rev K.W. Tulloss Aundre Russell at the 2017 Vanguard Awards.



How Obama’s ‘Worst Mistake’ Contributed to the Libyan Slave Trade and Is Hitting African Americans at Home

From The Editor In The Spirit



7 8

Head to Head

Black Caucus Confronts FBI Over Report That Could Signal Open Season on Black Activists; First Ever Resist Gentrification Action Summit

Trump’s Tax Plan & The Wealth Gap

Headlines From Africa Money Matters Trump’s Landmark Tax Bill Projected to Hit Black Americans Hard

Biz News Briefs American Express CEO

Slams Corporate America / Smiley Cuts Deal for National Tour / Weight Watchers Pays Off for Oprah Winfrey

On The Money

Girlfriend Of Slain Philando Castile Gets 800K



Inside Hollywood

Feature Story

In The Black: African-Americans Cash In On L.A.’s Business Landscape

Much Ado About Mariah; Terry Crews Turns up the Heat On Agent Who Assaulted Him

One On One JIll Scott

14 Calendar/Around LA Red Carpet Style 16 The 45th Annual American Music Awards

Eye On Gospel

And the Nominees Are…/Whatever Happened to DeLeon Sheffield/ Get Ready For The Glory Experience


22 Through The Storm 23 In Good Taste 25 Saving Grace 26 From The Pulpit Friendship Pasadena Church

Wrecked And Retching: Obscure Vomiting Illness Linked To Pot Use

Lura Ball’s Reinvented Bake Sale

Jenifer Lewis

Church News Church Founded By Della Reese Announces New Leadership Team/ Church of God In Christ Urges St. Louis Mayor to Act on Police Relations/ New Tax Bill Could Give Churches Greater Role in Partisan Politic

20 Pastor Profile 21 First Lady Files

Pastor Don McPhaull- Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church

From Windsor Hills to Windsor Palace: L.A.’s own Meghan Markle wins the heart of Prince Harry.

Talicia Oliver


Publisher/Editor-In-Chief Lisa Collins Editorial Coordinator Antracia Moorings Contributors Gerald Bell Production Britney Westbrook Photographer Ian Foxx, Rickey Brown Advertising Kisha Smith, Tina Stephens Social Media Jinoye Henry L.A. Focus–On the Word, is published monthly. Address all correspondence to: L.A. Focus, 333 W. Florence Ave., Suite C333 Inglewood, CA 90301 • (310) 677-6011 Fax: (310) 677-2338 Subscription rates $25.00 per year.

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honorary advisors West Angeles C.O.G.I.C. Bishop Charles Blake City of Refuge Bishop Noel Jones Paradise Baptist Church Dr. Aaron D. Iverson Southern Saint Paul Rev. Xavier L. Thompson F. A.M.E. Church Dr. Cecil Murray Faithful Central Bible Church Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer Mt. Moriah Baptist Church Rev. Melvin Wade Mt. Zion MBC Rev. E.V. Hill II




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Jason Johnson Guest Columnist

How Obama’s ‘Worst Mistake’ Contributed to the Libyan Slave Trade and Is Hitting African Americans at Home hen CNN broke the story several weeks ago that slavery—not wage slavery, not emotional slavery, not virtual slavery, but actual whipsand-chains-forced labor slavery—was alive and well in the North African nation of Libya, Americans finally started to take notice. Sort of. While there has been some reporting on the issue and a few statements from government leaders across the world, there has not been a sustained political and social media effort to address the Libyan slave trade akin to the 2014 Bring Back Our Girls campaign , or even the wellintentioned but poorly conceived KONY2012 campaign—perhaps because the “African slavery” issue is stickier, more pervasive and worst of all, involves the United States. The Root spoke with criminal defense attorney and asylum expert Yodit Tewolde, who is also a legal analyst for CNN and TV One, about what’s really happening in Libya and what responsibility African Americans have in the current crisis. “People act like this is new; this has been going on for years.” She said over the phone holding back frustration and emotion. Thousands of refugees, primarily from countries like Eritrea and Sudan, are fleeing poverty and violence in their own countries only to end up the victims of smugglers and slave traders at major ports in Libya. The men and women fleeing these countries take a substantial risk; they pay large sums of money to smugglers and may have to travel long and unsafe distances. Physical violence and torture are almost expected. Smugglers have been known to force young girls to take contraceptives before the journey since it expected that they will be raped multiple times during the trip. “Libya is the only transit point to the Mediterranean to get to Europe” says Tewolde, “They [African refugees] used to go to Israel, but now that country is blocking them out so they’re forced to go through Libya to Europe.” Advocates in Israel say that it is the peak of hypocrisy for a nation founded by refugees from the holocaust to now deny asylum to those in suffering. Meanwhile, starting around 2015, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has given asylum seekers one of three choices: stay in a refugee camp forever, go back home or take $3,500 and a one-way ticket to anywhere but Israel. With Israel no longer an option, most asylum seekers have to take a more dangerous route, like traveling from Eritrea to Ethiopia to the Sudan across the Sahara desert into Libya, says Tewolde. That is the route four of her cousins took to flee the chaos in Eritrea and how they were caught in the Libyan slave trade. “People make deals with smugglers” Yodit said. “My cousin was assured [he’d be safe].


From the Editor

The problem is these smugglers sell them to someone else. You’re lucky if you aren’t sold three or four times.” Tewolde’s cousins were kidnapped by slave traders in Libya and were forced to make ransom calls to family members all over the world. The choice was simple: Pay the money or your family member will be sold into slavery. Her youngest cousin, just 16 at the time, called Tewolde’s family in Dallas asking for $5,000 to save his life. When her family hesitated, the slavers broke her cousin’s arm and forced him to call again. Her family paid the $5,000 hoping for the best. Two of her cousins were released and traveled to Europe. Two were supposedly sent back to the Sudan. No one has heard from them in five years. This is the point in the story where most Americans pause and give a condescending sigh about how bad things are “over there.” The problem is, the Libyan slave trade is a direct result of the United States actions under Barack Obama, so this is more than just a “them” problem. Last year, in an interview on Fox News, President Obama admitted that the overthrow of the Libyan government was the “worst mistake” of his presidency. Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign overthrew Muammar Gadhafi’s regime, opening the door for human-rights abuses like refugee slavery. Gadhafi may have been a nondemocratic dictator and a human-rights abuser, but he was also no direct threat to the United States and he was a staunch advocate for African unity and Pan-Africanism. He spoke out about anti-black racism in the Arab community, was pushing for a single African currency, and literally wrote a song called “Black Flower in the White House” about Condoleeza Rice. This Libyan open market slave trade did not exist under Gadhafi, and likely would not have, given his political might and advocacy for black and African liberation. However, Gadhafi is dead, Obama is no longer in office and black people are being sold for less than you pay for a new smartphone. How do we fix this? “Reach out to the CBC,” Tewolde says. “The Congressional Black Caucus has an African task force. Keep the conversation going.” She also encourages sending emails and making phone calls to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to push for humanitarian aid and refugee relocation programs. “People should be paying attention to this” Tewolde says. “This is a global issue and we all have to put across an effort to stop this atrocity.” Jason Johnson is an author, a tenured professor in the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University and Politics Editor at LISA COLLINS Publisher

In The Spirit


empower people or solve a problem. Maybe it’s going to help people live longer or stop some form of racism, but whatever the case is. It’s a passion.” Last month, L.A. Focus celebrated the 20th annual installment of one of its passions—the First Ladies High Tea. Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since we launched this event that has come to be an annual tradition in the Los Angeles church community. A special shout out to CeCe Winans and Kathy Taylor Brown—two of gospel’s most talented performers who turned the ballroom of the posh Beverly Hilton Hotel out. Thanks to Apostle Beverly "BAM" Crawford and Dr. Bobby Jones for their hosting skills. But it is to the first ladies that I am most indebted. They saw and embraced my vision and have provided the steadfast support that has served as a solid foundation for an event that now consistently draws between 800-900 attendees, reflecting first ladies and members from upwards of 50 churches. The First Ladies High Tea was conceived both to foster and honor the role first ladies and women in the church play in impacting and shaping the lives of youth, to raise awareness to critical issues facing the black community and to mentor youth. We are extremely proud of the rich heritage the African-American church has had in shining the light on and nurturing the growth of young achievers. They are the face of our future and their perspectives will one day shape the world in which we live. For now, their voices mirror the issues of today’s society. In them is fear, joy, self-assurance, tenacity, vulnerability, uncertainty and yet wisdom, but most of all, resilience. Finally, it is hard to believe that the holiday season is already here. And while department stores, toy manufacturers and gift retailers look for big sales to boost revenues, community organizations and agencies will be working overtime to spread holiday cheer to the needy. An annual tradition for L.A. Focus is to provide a listing of agencies that provide help over the holiday season. At a time when hearts and spirits the world over take pause to celebrate the birth of one who died on a cross some 2,000 years ago—we would do well to remember the difference we can make in the lives of others. Indeed, it is the spirit of giving we celebrate at Christmas, for all of us—no matter who we are—have something of value to give. Most churches will be holding toy drives and food giveaways. have annual programs that serve to shine a light on those less fortunate during the holiday season. In the spirit of this Christmas season, the staff of L.A. Focus wishes you a safe and blessed holiday, urging you to remember the reason for the season—and the spirit of one who died for us on a cross some 2,000 years ago. Keep the faith.

L.A. Focus/ December 2017

ell, it looks like Americans are in for another round of “what-did-he-knowand when-did-he-know it” as Meuller’s investigation seems to be laserfocused on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I remember Watergate and how it took down “all the president’s men”. Though I can only imagine that the latest investigation —with Donald Trump in the mix—is sure to be a great deal spicier, even if it is the latest in a steady series of distractions that have engulfed the White House since Trump was sworn in as the nation’s ___ president. And in a world where men and women can be traded like chattel out in the open, sex scandals are taking down some of the biggest names in the media, the President of the world’s most powerful nation is baiting the lunatic leader of North Korea to make his day, and it is getting increasingly difficult for people to discern between what is real news and what is fake news, I don’t believe we need any more distractions. Thank God for Billy Bush, the former co-anchor of Access Hollywood to whom Trump was caught off camera saying that he grabs women by the you know what. While lately Trump has tried to back away from the story and the apology that followed, Bush penned an editorial in the New York Times, titled, “Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That”. But enough of spouting off. Turning to our feature story, starting a business isn’t easy. Aside from having a good idea, one must have laser focus, patience, determination and a great work ethic. This month, L.A. Focus is shining a light on a new cadre of entrepreneurs who are making their mark on L.A.’s business landscape. They include Buffalo Wild Wings franchise owners Karim Webb and Edward Barnett; Omar McGee, the founder and CEO of L.A.’s Executive Preparatory Academy of Finance and co-owner of Dubzzsterz Cigar Lounge; and Kia Patterson, who opened the first Black-owned grocery store in Compton. To those who are thinking about starting a business, I have this piece of advice, “Feed your faith and starve your doubts to death.” Surround yourself with people who are daring and positive—people who will support you through the highs and lows. Business is tough. Perseverance is key. Whatever you do, don’t give up. I had the opportunity last year to interview Shark Tank’s Daymond John and I asked him what are the characteristics of those who don’t make it. Said John, “Those people who talk in hypothetical ways. They have excuses for why they weren’t able to do this or that and they always need a band aid or somebody to lift them up. “The ones who make it are [those who insist] I’m going to take an affordable step and I’m going to figure it out. I’m going hear “NO” 9 times out of 10 times and I’m going to keep going. A shark can or cannot help them, but nobody is going to stop them from progressing on a daily basis. They’re going to surround themselves with likeminded people and they’ll find a mentor as they create something that’s going to



News Briefs

Black Caucus Confronts FBI Over Report That Could Signal Open Season on Black Activists ast month in Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was taken to task by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee over a recent FBI report “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers.” The FBI report—released in August just before the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, that left one dead and 14 injured—warns that “black identity extremists” pose a growing threat to law enforcement. In it, the FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans have “continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE [Black Identity Extremists] movement.” Bass grilled Sessions on the report, which the Attorney General says he didn’t read, but knew of the alleged targeting of officers by “certain groups.” “I’m not sure how that report got ordered,” Sessions said. “I don’t believe I explicitly approved it or directed it.” “Could you name an African-American organization that has committed violence against police officers?” Representative Karen Bass asked. “In this report, they name organizations from 30 or 40 years ago, but can you name one today that has targeted police officers in a vilent manner?” Sessions couldn’t name one. Even more troubling to Bass and others is the potentially dangerous consequences that come with a newly-created classification tying people with “extreme black identities” to possible future attacks on law enforcement officers.


Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond

We are completely aware that there are activists in our communities that are experiencing surveillance…are experiencing harassment.” Karen Bass

So, Bass asked, “Do you believe there is a movement of African Americans that identify themselves as ‘black identity extremists,’ and what does that movement do?” “Well, I’d be interested to see the conclusions of that report,” Sessions said, attempting to deflect, “but I’m aware that there are groups that have an extraordinary commitment to their racial identity, and some have transformed themselves even into violent activists ... so—” Bass cut him off. “Are you aware of white organizations that do this as well? Given that white supremacy is a well-documented, wellresearched movement, such as the neo-

Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, etc.—are they white identity extremists?” she asked. “I didn’t follow that question,” Sessions said. “ When pressed by Bass and asked if the FBI had done a report on white identity extremists likely motivated to target lawenforcement officers, he said he wasn’t aware of one. “Would you consider Black Lives Matter a black identity extremist group?” she asked. “I’m not able to comment on that. I have not so declared it,” Sessions said. In follow up to the grilling of Sessions by Bass and Congresswoman Shirley Lee, members of the Congressional Black Caucus—including Bass, met with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Capitol Hill in what CBC Chair Cedric Richmond characterized as a good first step. "We think that with his background— and we will give the benefit of the doubt based on his actions, words, and backcontinued to page 22

Over 700 Turn Out for First Ever Resist Gentrification Action Summit

L.A. Focus/December 2017

Leimert Park was ground zero on gentrification this weekend as upwards of 700 community residents, activists and representatives of over 40 tenant rights, civil rights, faith-based and social justice organizations turned out for the first ever Resist Gentrification Action Summit. The daylong summit featuring seminars, inspiring stories and speeches, an on-site tenant help-clinic, an Anti-Gentrification Free Store and music, was held at Audubon Middle School. Purposed to provide actionable strategies/tools to fight gentrification and promote community wealth building, the event was the brainchild of Crenshaw Subway Coalition founder, Damien Goodman. “We’re coming together,” said Goodman. “We’re asserting our rights to space…to affordable housing…to thrive in the community with a model of wealth building for us. There is a value system they have in this community that is much greater than just their home values. They value the community they built—the community many of them had to fight to get into and maintain in the face of divestment and neglect from the public and private sector; and the community they fight to advance now in the face of a gentrification tsunami that is trying to push them out. Breakout sessions included Rent Stabilization Ordinances, Just Cause Evictions, & Right of First Refusal, Fighting Wall Street Landlords,


Damion Goodman

Real Estate Speculation, & Other Corporate Takeovers of Housing, Community Planning and Zoning, Community Land Trusts, Cooperatives and wealth transfers. Longtime resident Gerri Alexander just wanted to find out about what’s really going on in Leimert Park. “It’s affecting me where I live with rents going up and people having to relocate,” Alexander reported. “I’d been hearing about gentrification but I didn’t know what it was all about.” Convening groups of the historic summit included AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment - Los Angeles, Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance, CDTech, the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Eviction Defense Network, Fannie Lou Hamer Institute, and Los Angeles Community Action Network. For Goodmon and his partner organi-


zations, Leimert Park has increasingly become a center of resistance. “People are legitimately angry because it [gentrification] implies that we were never good enough and we only become good enough when people of the pale persuasion start walking their dogs down the street.” Goodman was particularly pleased with the composition of the attendees. “Sixty percent of the room was black, but the rest was brown and yellow coming together,” Goodmon observed. “If I’m a powerful person trying to gentrify the community, I’d be a little bit scared today.” For Goodman and summit organizers, this is just a first start, a precursor to 2018, which he believes will be a big year for anti-gentrification efforts. “Now, we’ve got to roll up our sleeves,” Goodman states. “We’ve asserted our rights. Now let’s see if we can advance some of this stuff. A big part of it is political accountability. We need to have our elected officials recognize that we value a different way. That we want to see improvement but for us, that means the same neighbors, and we are willing to go to the ballot box to assert our rights be it rent control or repealing Costa Hawkins [Rental Act] at the statewide level. We’re willing to do that if our elected officials don’t engage in strategies that are necessary for us to stay in our homes and keep our communities working class black and brown.”

Trump Administration to End Provisional Residency Protection for 60,000 Haitians Nearly 60,000 Haitians with provisional legal residency were given 18 months to leave the United States by the Trump administration. According to senior White House officials, the decision came after the Department of Homeland Security concluded that the extraordinary conditions which justified the Haitians presence in the United States following a 2010 earthquake no longer existed. “Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent,” acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement. “Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens.” Duke further added that the Haitians are among 300,00 foreigners living here, the majority of which arrived illegally from Central American under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Duke said the 18-month deadline would allow for an orderly transition, permitting the Haitians to “arrange their departure” and their government to prepare for their arrival.

Rep. Karen Bass Calls On International Community to End Libya Slave Trade "The shocking images that emerged last week of African people for sale in Libya is a crime against humanity,” said Congressmember Karen Bass. “The time for the international community to act is now. If Libyans cannot end slave auctions, then the international community will be required to step in immediately.” Bass added, “I will be introducing a resolution that condemns migrant slave auctions in Libya and calls upon the international community to take immediate meaningful action." Congress member Bass seeks to transform how people think and engage African nations and to promote the many opportunities to promote trade and economic growth between the U.S. and African nations. A top priority for Bass is the African Growth and Opportunities Act or AGOA—our country’s trade preference program with eligible African nations. While conflict and global health challenges remain a concern and must be addressed, Africa nations are eager to engage the United States, in particular, Congress, on trade versus aid opportunities.

Kim Kardashian West Hires Attorney Shawn Holley to Free Cyntoia Brown Famed Hollywood personality Kim Kardashian-West recently sought the help of renowned attorney Shawn Holley to free 29year-old Tennessee native, Cyntoia Brown who was charged for the murder of a 43- year-old man who used Brown as a child sex slave. Brown was charged with murder as an adult at the age of 16, after admitting to the crime and sentenced to 60 years, with 51 of them served before the possibility of parole. Recently, the case has become a cause celeb and with those like Rihanna, T.I. and West igniting a social media frenzy around the case. “The system has failed,” West stated. “It’s heartbreaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. #FreeCyntoiaBrown”

Cyntoia Brown


Trump’s Tax Plan And The Wealth Gap

new study released by leaving taxpayers on the the left-leaning Institute hook for $535 million in fedThe Poor Are Not Poor for Policy Studies in eral guarantees. Because the Rich Are Washington, D.C., headlines Who are these billionaires Rich what they see as shocking news on the Forbes 400 list? that in America some people are Joshua Rauh of the Stanford much wealthier than others. University School of Business and Steven Some findings of the study, entitled Kaplan of the University of Chicago Booth "Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and School of Business studied the list. the Rest of Us," are: In 2011, 32 percent came from wealthy —"The three wealthiest people in the families, compared to United States — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and 60 percent in 1982. Warren Buffett — now own more wealth And in 2011, 69 perthan the entire bottom half of the American cent started their own population." businesses compared —The 400 billionaires on the Forbes to 40 percent in 1982. 400 list "now own more wealth than the So these are increasbottom 64 percent of the American popula- ingly individuals who tion." created their own —"One in five US households...have wealth. Star Parker zero or negative net worth. Over 30 percent And the fact is, the of black households and 27 percent of wealthy already pay the lion's share of the Latino households have zero or negative nation's taxes, and this has increased over net worth." time. The message that IPS wishes to convey According to the Tax Foundation, in here is that there's a connection between 2014, those whose incomes were in the top wealth at the top and dismal economic cir- 1 percent paid 39.5 percent of all taxes. In cumstances at the bottom. That is, the poor 1982, the top 1 percent paid 19 percent of are poor because the rich are rich. all taxes. Raising taxes more on the highest Their proposed solution for narrowing income earners will benefit tax lawyers and the gap between rich and poor follows this lobbyists and do little for the rest of us. premise. The way to make the poor less Envy doesn't create wealth. Freedom poor, in their view, is to make the rich less and character does. How about we focus rich. And, of course, they propose to do this less on punishing those who succeed and with government power. "By taxing our more on helping those who are not realizwealthiest, we could raise significant rev- ing their potential? enues and then invest these funds to Harvard economist Martin Feldstein expand wealth-building opportunities estimates that cutting corporates taxes across the economy." would raise national income by $500 billion If we accept the questionable assump- — $3,500 per household. I say we cut them tion that higher taxes on the wealthy would even more for businesses opening in disraise "significant revenues," who exactly, tressed communities. according to their plan, would invest these Let's admit that our massive welfare funds to produce all these new opportuni- state has been a disaster. I have long been ties? for allowing low-income Americans to stop Those with the greatest investment paying the payroll tax and instead use skills are those on the Forbes 400 list, who these funds to invest in a personal retirethe IPS sees as the problem and who they ment account to build personal wealth. want to punish for being successful. These are just starters. We should be So in all likelihood it's a government looking for ideas to bring up the bottom. bureaucrat that they want to put in charge Not dragging down the top. of making these brilliant "wealth-building" Star Parker is an author and president of investments. CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and But bureaucrats would not be bureau- Education. Contact crats if they knew how to invest and create To find out more wealth. We've been through this before — about Star Parker and read features by the list of failed government projects is other Creators Syndicate writers and carlong. Recall most recently the Solyndra toonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webscandal — the failed solar panel firm site at backed by the Obama administration —

Headlines From Africa


A look at current news from the continent of Africa Namibia: Namibia has gotten the ball rolling on plans to scrap visa requirements for African passport holders after Cabinet authorized the implementation of this process - to be carried out in line with diplomatic procedures. Namibia will soon start issuing African passport holders with visas on arrival at ports of entry as a first step towards the eventual abolition of all visa requirements for all Africans. Nigeria: The Borno State government has said it will convert the house of the former leader of Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf, to a museum. According to Bulama, the museum would help to archive all things related to Boko Haram insurgency to attract tourists and for the benefits of future generation. Sierra Leone: Residents of Kalitown community in outskirt of Freetown over the weekend met with the sole female presidential candidate of the Unity Party, Madam Femi Claudius-Cole, and pledged their support to her ahead of the 2018 elections. Tanzania: President John Magufuli has ordered the demolition of Tanesco's, the Tanzanian State Power Firm's headquarters in Dar es Salaam to pave the way for road construction. The Tanzania National Roads Agency says it has marked an X on the state-owned electric supply firm's building - but local newspaper The Citizen says there is no such mark on the ten-story building. Zambia: Over 500 Rainbow Party members have joined the ruling Patriotic citing leadership failure by founder Wynter Kabimba. Majority of the defectors are those that ditched the Patriotic Front for Rainbow and had now rejoined. Leading the defectors was former Rainbow Party chairperson for elections Victor Kalesha who said the group had decided to join the ruling party because of good policies that have been introduced. Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) will with immediate effect conduct joint patrols aimed at maintaining and preserving peace in the country. Addressing joint press statement in the capital, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the ZRP and ZDF have resumed joint patrols to maintain law and order adding that the situation in the country has returned to

L.A. Focus/December 2017

Angola: The Angolan Government will soon set up integrated centers to address cases of domestic violence announced the minister of Social Action, Family and Women Promotion, Victória da Conceição. The minister did not say when the centers will be opened, but she did say the centers will seek to respond to the domestic violence victims' concerns, with the help of people specializing in counseling and psychological assistance. Cameroon: In Cameroon, opposition lawmakers disrupted parliament for a second day in a row as tensions deepen over the government’s handling of the crisis in the country’s anglophone regions. Lawmakers of Cameroon’s main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front demand parliament hold debates on how to resolve the year-long strike in the two Englishspeaking regions. Many schools in the southwest and northwest remain shut and a strike has closed down many businesses. French-speakers are the majority in the bilingual country, and anglophone activists say they are marginalize. Congo: More than 800 people have been killed as a result of a cholera epidemic linked to escalating conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The deaths of the 882 victims have been recorded from over 44 000 outbreaks since the beginning of the year. Authorities said while the cholera epidemic has been on a downward trend, however, a relatively large increase in the number of cases has been observed in the Kasai and Lomani provinces. Ethiopia: Executive Directors of the African Development Bank Group have approved a loan and a grant amounting to US$ 97.79m for the rehabilitation of power systems in Ethiopia. The US$83.64m loan and US$14.15m grant from the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional window of the AfDB Group will be used to finance the rehabilitation and upgrading of power transmission and distribution Systems in the capital, Addis Ababa. Liberia: The National Museum of Liberia is restored and now open to the public, reversing the effect of many years of destruction and neglect. It is housed in one of Monrovia's oldest buildings, erected in 1843, four years before Liberia's Declaration of Independence.

he majority of black three years — let that sink and Latino voters did- Trump’s tax plan would in for a moment. n’t pull the lever for Looking a bit further into widen racial wealth Donald Trump last the future, black families are gap November. He is, however, the projected to own no wealth president — and thus has the power to at all by 2053. By that point, our country leave a lasting effect on the trajectory of will be majority non-white, but whites and their lives. non-whites will be farther apart than ever. Trump recently made headlines for But that’s assuming nothing changes. making significant reversals in policy posi- If Trump moves forward with the policies tions on issues ranging he campaigned on, especially his tax from immigration to “reform” plan, the gap surely grows. the national debt ceilTrump’s tax plan is heavily skewed ing. Perhaps he could toward providing massive tax breaks for change his tune on the ultra-wealthy. Half of the proposed how he addresses the cuts will go to millionaires, according to growing racial wealth the Institute on Taxation and Economic divide as well. Policy. Less than 5 percent go to families Will the already deep with household incomes below $45,000. racial wealth divide Perhaps more insidious is Trump’s Josh Hoxie grow wider under plan to eliminate the federal estate tax, Trump, or can we begin to close it? also known as the inheritance tax. This Just released figures from the Census levy applies exclusively to the wealthiest Bureau show that black and Latino fami- 0.2 percent of households and is intended lies saw a slight uptick in their household to curtail the growing concentration of income last year. They still lagged far wealth in families like, say, the Trumps. behind their white families — with median Fortunately, the president has other households earning more than $10,000 options. He could choose to expand, rather less than their white counterparts — but than abolish, the estate tax. the racial income gap did get a bit smaller He could also address the deep disparover the very short term. ities in homeownership — and particularUnfortunately, the long-term trends ly in the mortgage interest deduction in go in the other direction. the tax code, which benefits the wealthy A just released report I co-authored and those who already own a house. titled “The Road to Zero Wealth” looks at Thanks to generations of discrimination in trends in household wealth, which housing and credit, black families trail includes the total sum of a families’ assets whites in homeownership by a margin of minus their debts. And wealth, not The median black family income, is the better measure of long-term financial stability. today has just $1,700 in The median black family today has wealth, with Latino families just $1,700 in wealth, with Latino families not far ahead at just $2,000. White faminot far ahead at just $2,000. White families, meanwhile, own more than $100,000. lies, meanwhile, own more than That gap is staggering. $100,000. That gap is staggering. And it’s getting worse. The report looks at racial wealth data over the past 30 years to project what we over 30 percent. can expect in the future if current trends Unfortunately, it’s unlikely Trump continue. By 2020, the end of Trump’s first changes course. While the president is term, median black and Latino households nothing if not mercurial, his commitment stand to lose nearly 18 percent and 12 per- to protecting the wealth of the already cent of the wealth they held in 2013, wealthy has remained steadfast. respectively. That the vast majority of the nation’s Median white household wealth, on wealth is, and always has been, held in the other hand, looks set to increase 3 per- predominantly white hands at the expense cent. of non-whites hasn’t concerned him. At that point, white households will Perhaps, however, he’ll change his mind. own 85 times more wealth than black Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Taxation households, and 68 times more wealth and Opportunity at the Institute for Policy than Latino households. That’s in just Studies.



On the Money

Trump’s Landmark Tax Bill Projected To Hit Black Americans Hard


resident Trump got his first major victory with the passing of the GOP’s tax reform bill, but it is a victory that many politicians and economist believe could spell big trouble for black Americans. In a piece published by EURWEB, attorney Antonio Moore and political Commentator Yvette Carnell explained how hard black Americans would be hit. In fact, not only would black Americans be least likely to see a tax cut, but they would be more likely to see future tax increases, shredded safety nets and a flurry of fines and fees to make up the difference. Charles D. Ellison, a Washington correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune, says, “Not only is Black America the least likely to see a tax cut, but it’s the most likely to see future tax increases, shredded safety nets and a flurry of fines and fees to make up the difference.” He continues, “Right now, at this very moment, the single biggest threat to the group of people already in a compromised position because of their race is the Congressional Republicans’ tax-reform plan. Not the sound of the police. Not lead in your water and not a jail cell.” So just how hard would black Americans be hit? Listed below are just some of the projections of programs that would be affected: · Greatly reduce Medicaid by $5.3 trillion over ten years · Trigger $400 billion in Medicare cuts over ten years, including $25 billion in the first year; · Greatly reduce food stamps by 30 percent; · Eliminate the ability to write off student loan interest; · Dramatically reduce college Pell Grants; · Significantly reduce Head Start slots by 200,000 · Cut K-12 Education funding by 30 percent · Eliminate rental assistance to nearly 1 million · Cut job training by 40 percent · Exacerbate the disparity between whites and nonwhites · Create an additional $1.5 trillion deficit that would force the gutting of social service programs for decades to come.

Particularly troubling is that Trump’s plan would impose higher taxes on some single taxpayers with major changes in the plan particularly hard on single parents. First, he would eliminate the head-of-household filing status, thus requiring single parents to file as individuals. This would increase tax rates for single parents at most income levels. Second, while the standard deduction gets a boost, the plan would get rid of personal and dependent exemptions, raising taxable income for all single parents who do not itemize. Under current law in 2017, a single parent with one child can take a $9,400 standard deduction and two $4,100 exemptions, thus reducing her taxable income by $17,600. Trump’s plan proposes to substitute that combination with a $15,150 standard deduction, making $2,450 more income subject to tax. And bigger families would get hit even harder—their taxable income under Trump’s plan would go up by $4,100 for each additional child, relative to current law. Finally, Trump’s plan to move the tax schedule from for some. The result: Higher taxes for many heads of household. For example, in 2017 a single parent with one child who claims the standard deduction would face a 25 percent tax rate on adjusted gross income (AGI) between $53,050 and $68,550, compared with just a 15 percent rate under current law. A new report titled “The Road to Zero Wealth” by The Institute for Policy Studies found that “without a serious change in course, the country is heading towards a racial and economic apartheid state,” and that “if the racial wealth divide is left unaddressed and is not exacerbated further over the next eight years, median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053."

Girlfriend Of Slain Philando Castile Gets 800K Diamond Reynolds, who made national headlines when she live-streamed the aftermath of then boyfriend Philando Castile’s fatal shooting on Facebook, will receive a total of $800,000 in settlements. The announcement comes nearly 17 months after the July 6, 2016 incident in which Castile was shot and killed by St. Anthony, Minnesota police office Jernomino Yanez in what should have been a routine traffic incident. Castile was shot seven times after telling Yanez he did have a gun in the car as he sat next to Reynolds whose four-year old daughter was in the back seat. Though not injured, Reynolds and her daughter endured emotional distress and maintained they were falsely arrested in connection with the shooting. They will receive $675,000 from the city of St. Anthony, Minn., and $125,000 from the city of Roseville and League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. “While no amount of money can change what happened, bring Philando back, or erase the pain that my daughter and I continue to suffer, I do hope that closing this chapter will allow us to get our lives back and move forward,” Reynolds said in a statement. “This settlement”, said St. Anthony Mayor Jerry Faust, “resolves all civil litigation stemming from the incidents on July 6, 2016, and opens the door to continued healing within our community.” Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, reached a $3 million settlement from the city in June, less than two weeks after Yanez—who was charged with three felonies: one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm—was acquitted of all the charges.

Biz NewsBriefs American Express CEO Slams Corporate America for Lack of Diversity at The Top

Last month, American Express CEO Ken Chenault called it an embarrassment for corporate America that just four blacks lead the nation’s Fortune 500 companies. That number will shrink to three when Chenault, now 66, retires in February as his replacement will be white. Chenault maintains it is not for lack of talent among minority executives. Instead, he pointed to a lack of initiative on the part of upper management. “You’ve got to put them in the pipeline…to identify, recruit, develop, and push people for-

ward,” said Chenault, who earned a reported $370 million during his 17-year tenure with the company. While African Americans make up more than 13% of the U.S. population, black CEOs account for less than 1% of Fortune 500 companies. Come March, the three remaining CEOs will be Kenneth Frazier (Merck), Roger Ferguson (TIAA) and Marvin Ellison (JCPenney).

Smiley Cuts Deal for National Tour Commemorating 50th Anniversary of MLK’s Death

Tavis Smiley, in partnership with Mills Entertainment, the leading producer of alternative and branded live entertainment, has announced the initial dates for the nationwide tour of Death o f A King: A Live Theatrical Experience. The multi-media stage presentation of Smiley’s best-selling book, Death of A King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year commemorates the upcoming 50th anniversary of King’s death. The widely-anticipated tour, sponsored by Walmart, will launch on Dr. King’s birthday, January 15, 2018 in Brooklyn. Smiley narrates this joyful tribute that tells the little-known story of Dr. King’s final year. The

tour will run through April stopping in Memphis on April 4th, the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination in the same city, and is currently scheduled to visit 40 markets. “I’m excited to partner with Mills on such an important and timely project and look forward to kicking this off in Brooklyn,” said Smiley, whose book, Death of A King, is a New York Times bestseller and is being developed as a television event series. “In our current political climate, Death of A King represents a narrative shift that’s not just about the normal discussion of left versus right and conservative versus liberal, but really a reset of our deepest values. Dr. King said in 1968 we needed a revolution of values, and 50 years later, Death of A King aims to reunite America with its best self.”

Weight Watchers Pays Off for Oprah Winfrey

Oprah pocketed $39 million on Weight Watchers last month, bringing her total haul to nearly $300 million since she announced her 10% stake in the company in 2015. What’s more, shares of Weight Watchers stock are surging with the news that the company's earnings have topped Wall Street estimates—up more than 350 percent date.

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L.A. Focus/December 2017

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Making A Difference Getting into the holiday spirit generally means greater attention to the needy and others. As the holidays near, many charitable organizations in the community have special fundraising appeals to help them provide funds to fulfill their yearly missions. Giving Tuesday—which raised $177 million last year and falls five days after Thanksgiving—has not only been recognized nationally as a time to give back in some way, but it marks the beginning of the holiday season of giving. Twenty-two percent of American adults are giving more to charity in 2017 than they did last year, according to a new report, while only 12 percent said they are giving less. Money is the most preferred method, followed by clothing and food donations and volunteering time, Bankrate found. Another way more and more people are giving to charity is by making donations in the name of family or friends in lieu of exchanging gifts. Some churches offer programs where you can adopt a family in need for Christmas and provide them with a range of needs from groceries to winter coats. Whether it’s your time or money, there are countless ways to donate this holiday season. Toy, food and clothing giveaways are an annual tradition for many churches and local businesses while city council members do all they can to assist in providing referrals to those in need. If you are in need this holiday season or you want to help others in need, listed below are just some of the worthwhile programs you can tap into: Department of Public Social Service's (DPSS) Adopt-A-Family Program: This program assists low- income families with toys, clothes and food during the holidays. Those who want to help can fill out a sponsor form no later than Dec. 13 and coordinators match you with the perfect family, providing a family name as well as their phone number, address, children's ages, clothing & shoe sizes, preferred colors and any particular "wish list" they have, though sponsors decide what they will give. Gift baskets, grocery gift cards, meals and gifts are all appropriate. For information, call (213) 7444344 or e-mail Homeless Housing Placement Agency: Requests for services increase greatly during the holiday season. Donations are gladly accepted for clothing for children and adults as well as canned and non-perishable items. The agency is located at 1644 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 103, Los Angeles 90017. Call (213) 484-2150. Minority AIDS Project: This organization provides food, transportation and nursing referrals to its HIV clients. This holiday they would be more than grateful to accept donations of toys, infant clothing and food. You can drop off donations at 5147 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles 90016 Call: Thea Williams (323) 936-4949 Project Angel Tree: Prison Fellowship Los Angeles reaches out to children with incarcerated parents by getting churches and other groups to purchase Christmas gifts of toys, bikes, clothing and books for children and youth. Many local church’s participate in Project Angel Tree. For information on how you can help, contact (800) 55-ANGEL (2-


Watts-Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club: The Watts-Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club feeds the hungry, as well as donates clothing and toys to children in need. They remain open during the holidays to kids for different activities and field trips. To volunteer your time, call the Watts-Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club, 1339 120th St., LA 90059, Call Veronica at (213) 628-3673 Salvation Army of Southern California: The Salvation Army of Southern California, which provides a vast range of services to youth, the homeless, seniors, veterans and more, breaks out their distinctive red kettles accepting monetary donations. You can also make donations by phone by calling 1-800-725-2769. In addition, the Salvation Army has family stores located across Los Angeles that accept donations of clothing, furniture, appliances and toys. If you have time to spare, the Salvation Army is also signing up volunteers. Call 1-800-725-2769 Los Angeles Regional Food Bank: Food banks across the county are stretched thin at Christmas time, so organizations like the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank have come up with innovative ways to build their supplies. In addition to food and monetary donations, the mission will accept gift cards for local grocery store chains in the Los Angeles area. Volunteers are always needed to help prepare, serve and feed the hungry and homeless. Call (323) 234-0943 or visit Toys for Tots: With a mission to collect new, unwrapped toys throughout the holiday months for children in need, the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve Toys for Tots program is by far one of the most popular. And, for good reason: helping children in need during the holidays is a true gift, so help make a difference this year and play an active role in your community by donating toys at the various drop-off locations. To find a location near you, go to His Sheltering Arms: You can help brighten the lives of women and children living in this residential facility with much-needed donations of new twin-sized bedspreads, pillows, comforters and blankets. Toiletries and monetary donations are always needed. The facility is located at 11101 S. Main Street, Los Angeles. Call Miss Fannie at (213) 810-9974. Operation Gratitude: Since 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have lovingly packaged and shipped care packages containing letters, holiday cards and goodies from home to servicemen and women deployed overseas. Cards, letters and goodies can be sent to Operation Gratitude, 16444 Refugio Road, Encino, CA 91436. Donations can also be made online via Operation Gratitude or Paypal. Childrens Hospital Los Angeles: Holidays from the Heart Program aims to make the holidays a little happier for chronically ill children and their families. There are a number of ways to help, including sponsoring a family, as well as providing gift items, toys and monetary donations. For details on what you can do, call (323) 660-2450 or visit

GERALD BELL Contributor

L.A. Focus/December 2017


ith entrepreneurship among African Americans, women and minorities reportedly on a steady climb nationwide, a growing number of Los Angeles-based black businesses are realizing impressive successes–some with ventures earning sizable profits in their early years. Many emerging business moguls agree that there is no secret to success. But the driving factor is a passion to deliver a product or service they believe will improve lives, offer fulfilling experiences and meet their customer’s need at the right time. Such is the case for Kareem Cook and Claude Tellis, former college buddies turned business partners, who in 2012 acquired Naturade. Their company produces a full line of health-related products including vitamins, nutritional supplements, meal replacement shakes, skin care and hair care products and a line of anti-aging products. They started in business together by installing vending machines with healthy options in Los Angeles public schools and advocating for the ban on junk food for students. This campaign led them to develop a business plan to prevent illnesses like diabetes and it ultimately lead to their purchase of Naturade. Both are Duke University graduates who desired a bigger platform to help African Americans prevent common illnesses that plague the community. “We’re the largest black owned Nutraceutical company in the country. We’re in CVS, Walgreens, we’re in Walmart, Sam’s Club, we’re all over,” says Cook. “We’ve doubled the company [in size] since we bought it.” C ook and Ellis both have family histories of diabetes and cancer. Their experiences growing up inspired them to start living healthy lifestyles and they say Naturade allows them to empower the African-American community through that mission. “We chose this industry because it’s really about doing great by doing good,” Cook said. “We wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on the world.” The two are not alone when it comes to the passion of ensuring the community has access to more healthy food options. Kia Patterson opened the first Black-owned grocery store in Compton, CA as the owner/operator of The Grocery Outlet. Her vision — to bring organic


food options to people in the community at more affordable prices. According to reports, the chain claims it is the nation’s largest extreme value grocery retailer and offers brand-name items as well as fresh, organic produce for 40 to 70 percent less than the actual retail price. “This store is really good for the community. The most important thing is we sell a lot of organic products at a bargain," said Patterson in a Facebook video. “I made the decision to own a Grocery Outlet so that I could have the freedom to be able to do what I want to do and not be pigeon-holed to anything.” After working for several years at Smart & Final, Patterson was initially recruited by the Grocery Outlet to help expand the brand into the Los Angeles area. “Now I have the ability to set my own destiny,” she tells reporters. With the courage to risk rejection and some days little to no pay – these up and coming business leaders say that as entrepreneurs in pursuit of their calling, the dol-

L-R: PCF partners Karim Webb, Houston Rockets' Trevor Ariza and Edward Barnett at opening of Buffalo Wild Wings in Koreatown.

lars will follow as long as you have the right motivation. Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees Karim Webb and business partner Edward Barnett, are seeing a return on the sacrifices they made with four restaurant locations in L.A. going strong and plans are to increase that number. The two have been friends since childhood and Ward said when they discussed the possibility of doing business together, “the sports bar concept was a no brainer.” “In 2006, we became franchisees. It took us three years to open our first store and it was a difficult time because the market had crashed,” Webb explained. “We weren’t able to get bank financing so we had to come up with the cash. It was a pretty expensive endeavor…about $2.5 million plus to get one of these [Buffalo Wild Wings] open and begin the process.” But money wasn’t the only obstacle for Webb and Barnett’s Culver City-based PCF Restaurant Group. “We are in our early 40s now, but we started when we were in our early mid 30s,” Webb recalls. “The market had crashed and we went through 21 different real estates transactions where we would get to the end [of the process] and landlords would see two African Americans come in and the deals would fall apart. We knew it was because we were young and black.” The doors of their first location opened in Torrance at Del Amo Mall in 2009. Restaurants in Baldwin Hills and Carson followed. Recently they added a location in Koreatown and plans for two more in the L.A. area – one near the Rams stadium in Inglewood—are in the works. Webb said their brand is catching on to social media, smartphone apps, fantasy football, and loyalty programs. They’re embracing methods of payment through Facebook or even Instagram. “All of the different ways that people are using technology, Buffalo Wild Wings, like all the other different brands, is trying to figure out the best way for us to leverage it.” Currently, PCF Restaurant Group employs some 400 people between the four restaurants and enjoy offering youth and young adults the opportunity to work and develop job skills. “It lends itself to what my personal passion is which is developing young people – especially under-served young people,” Webb says. “Entry level employment is a great conduit for that. You can come and work for us and

Left: Kia Patterson poses at her Compton-based Grocery Outlet; Right: Omar McGee is flanked by actress Kym Whitley and partner, C.W. at Dubzzsterz Cigar Lounge

We started when we were in our early to mid 30s. The market had crashed and we went through 21 different real estates transactions where we would get to the end [of the process] and landlords would see two African Americans come in and the deals would fall apart. We knew it was because we were young and black. --Karim Webb

Construction. That’s where you’re going to have your strength in numbers. You’re not going to be able to navigate [success] in time by yourself.” Three years ago, educator and entrepreneur, Omar McGee fell in love with the cigar culture and saw an opportunity where he could co-own a cigar lounge. Widely known as the founder and CEO of L.A.’s Executive Preparatory Academy of Finance, McGee said, “It was something that intrigued me and I jumped right into it head first. I got excited when I met my partner C.W. who is a cigar official and knows everything about cigars.” McGee, who credits CW for having the dream for a lounge, put up the funds to revamp the venue’s atmosphere and says the venture, Dubzzsterz Cigar Lounge, has attracted the likes of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, actress Kym Whitley, Louis Gossett Jr, Yendi Smith and a variety of celebrities. Adding an upscale Cigar Lounge to his portfolio wasn’t McGee’s childhood dream, but says the heart and soul of an entrepreneur is an inherent quality. “Everybody in my family is an entrepreneur,” he said. “My father owns a car collision shop, my sister is into daycare centers, and me in schools. But [this cigar lounge] is just something that was just dear to me [after hearing CW’s story].” McGee is extending his love for the cigar industry even further as he and another business partner, Don Juan Gross, will introduce a new brand of cigar this year. The two have developed Dignity Cigars and express confidence that the product will be a contribution to connecting people socially from all walks of life. Gross, who studied marketing at Xavier University in New Orleans, did a majority of the research in the product’s development phase. He said several proposals were rejected by various plant growers before landing upon a quality tobacco brand that’s grown in Costa Rica. “After two years of traveling and meeting various growers, we got one yes,” said Gross. “I’m coming up on nine years in the game and I’ve still got a whole more to learn but our main focus is to create a high-end cigar in a classy package.” According to Gross, he and McGee agree they have similar entrepreneurial drive and passions–and as a team they have identified and are leveraging their experience and strengths. “As a kid I knew how to make money,” McGee recollects. “I knew how to make opportunities when others weren’t looking for them. I always say, you have to be wired for business. It’s something that you’re born with…Everybody was not meant to be a business owner. Some people can take a business over from somebody and make it successful. Some people can’t work for anybody else but have to create their own. [As] for me, I was wired for business.” Gibson, who retired from corporate America, insists that no matter where you are on the entrepreneurial spectrum, you must at minimum possess the knowledge and the confidence “to step up and step out.” “We tell people to go to the Small Business Administration and look at what they have to offer,” asserts Gibson. “Get your business plan together. Learn how to get certified. How to get your loans. How to get your bonding. If you just have the desire and the tenacity, there’s a whole lot of money on the table.”

L.A. Focus/December 2017

in four years–whether you have a high school diploma or not–if you have integrity and you show up every day, you can be making $70,000 to $80,000 a year running a multi-million dollar business.” Their level of core competency, they say, is connecting with the community. “We have roots in the community so our brand lends it self to really getting engaged with schools,—with adult and youth sports programs,” Webb states. “We often become the place where people come and fundraise. That helps us maintain the consistency of volume and then you get really good at operating the business. “When sales are soft in other places of the country, our sales are still strong. Part of that is because people are making the choice to come to Buffalo Wild Wings because they hire our people, they take care of our kids, and they give back to the high schools, and things we care about. Why would I go give [T.G.I.] Friday’s my money when I can go to people who are supporting our community. Not everyone has that mindset, but some people do and that's a competitive advantage.” It was mentors, frat brothers and other positive role models that inspired real estate and mortgage lender, Nick Gouche’, to pursue his dream in finance. He attributes his success in part to working around leaders in the field of banking who believed he was worth a shot despite his unstable upbringing. Gouche’ is the product of a single parent home, where he had a history of academic troubles and truancy issues throughout high school. Now, 33, he says none of his teachers would have guessed he’d one day be president of his own company, The Gouche’ Lending Group and Branch Manager of New American Funding. His lending group has been helping African-American residents throughout Los Angeles become homeowners. According to Gouche’ the company is on track this year to reach $50 million in home ownership for their clients since launching in 2012. Gouche’s group has been recognized nationally among the top one percent of loan originators in America by Mortgage Executive Magazine for the last two consecutive years. “Real Estate and mortgage banking is probably one of the most powerful [industries] you can be in,” he contends. “Being able to be a part of that conversation we kind of help create sustainable wealth and a legacy for our families and our community.” Bringing resources to the business sector in the L.A. community is what motivates Angela Gibson, president of The Greater Los Angeles African America Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC). The organization promotes the economic growth and development of local business persons with classes on how to find the right investors, alternatives to business loans, networking, how to maintain relationships with contractors and more. “In Los Angeles, there is an unprecedented amount of projects that are taking place in our community,” says Gibson, who went on to name the LAX renovation, the Coliseum’s prep for the 2028 Olympics, the 2018 NBA All Star Weekend, as examples of the opportunities entrepreneurs should be going after. “There’s enough projects around here for everybody to participate in but we’ve got to help each other,” she stressed. “[Entrepreneurs] need to join organizations like GLAAACC, the Black Business Association, the National Association of Minority Contractors, Women in


INSIDE HO L LY W OOD with Neily Dickerson As we close out the year it is only right that I share my list of the Top 10 Movies. I’m going to do this one in list form like David Letterman would so, here we go. Number 10. “American Made”: Tom Cruise picked a good one with this film. Number 9. “War for The Planet of The Apes” ~ R.I.P. Cesar. Number 8. “Girls Trip”: y’all know you had fun in this one! Number 7. “Logan Lucky”: Got to see “007” in a different light, there will be a sequel. Number 6. “Baby Driver”: The music drove the move perfectly! Number 5. “Wind River”: Didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.

Number 4. “Split” - James McAvoy is excellent! He reconfirmed my belief in split personalities. Number 3. “Detroit”: A heavy story that needed to be told. Number 2. "The Big Sick”: This was a great story with great acting. Overall, a great movie. Number 1 movie of 2017 is “Get Out.” I have one word for this film and that’s—superb. I also have a bonus pick since not all good movies are in theaters. So my bonus picks is "The New Edition Story.” Here are a few movies I haven’t previewed, but I believe would have been Top 10 contenders: “Roman J. Israel, ESQ,” “Molly’s Game,” “Last Call Pitches,” and “The Post.” It’s the holiday season. Let’s go to the movies.


Love Beats Rhymes December 1

Just Getting Started December 8

Much Ado About Mariah


Mariah Carey may have been on doctor’s order to cut back and has cancelled some of her tour dates, but one date she kept was a free concert put on by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a cause close to Carey’s heard. And she none the worse for wear—looking fabulous (see below) —when she arrived in Los Angeles for the event held at the Shrine Auditorium that served to shine a light on all AHF was doing in the community. Carey just recently reportedly won a multi-million dollar “Inconvenience” settlement from her billionaire ex-fiance, James Packer, stemming from their broken 2016. While details of the settlement were not disclosed, Carey had sought $50 million. Finally, Variety is reporting that Mariah Carey has signed with Jay Z’s Roc Nation for management after cutting ties with her previous manager earlier this month.

Terry Crews Turns The Heat Up On High Powered Agent Who Assaulted Him

Actor Terry Crews turned up the heat on the man he says grabbed his crotch and then stuck out his tongue in a suggestive manner while at a party the actor was attending with his wife. Last week, Crews revealed —in a tweet— the actual text sent to his agent regarding the February 2016 incident just 24 hours after

The Shape of Water December 8

the assault took place. “Brad, your boy Adam Venit—I was hanging with Sandler the other night and he was DOPED UP. It was embarrassing. Sandler had to call me to apologize. He actually grabbed my NUTS. I wish I was making this up. Becky was right there. Somebody needs an intervention—QUICK. He almost got knocked out. I kept my peace, but I ran outta there. This wasn’t drunk bro. I know drunk….” Crews says he came close to losing it, tweeting, “240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho would be the headline the next day.” Crews had believed until recently that his coming forward with that kind of information earlier might have hurt his career given the clout Venit held in the industry. Venit, a high-powered agent at William Morris Endeavor, was suspended for a month, but is now back at work. That hardly sits well with the former linebacker turned actor who stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and who reportedly filed a police report on the incident. Yet, despite a series of high profile interviews with news media including Good Morning America and the Washington Post, Crews fears that Venit just may

Star Wars: The Last Jedi December 14

be getting a pass with the incident being rationalized as “isolated.”

Casting News Viola Davis’ already busy slate of upcoming film work (“Widows” directed by Steve McQueen and “Small Great Things” with Julia Roberts) has officially expanded to include the screen adaptation of Terry McMillan’s book, “I Almost Forgot About You.” Davis will team with “Girl’s Trip” director Malcolm D. Lee on the project, which will be produced by Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon for their JuVee Production Company. In the film, Davis will play twice-divorced, successful optometrist, Georgia Young, who goes on a wild journey of self-discovery while seeking a new lease on life. Davis, who stars as Annalise Keating on ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” is also set to produce a series with her husband, Black Don’t Crack…In other casting news, Alexandra Shipp (Straight Outta Compton) is in negotiations to join Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Roundtree and Jesse T. Usher and what will be yet another reboot of the popular Shaft film franchise. Production gets underway next month on the film in which John Shaft Jr. (Jesse T. Usher) enlists the aid of his father to help him find out who killed his best friend and then take down a drug-trafficking/moneylaundering operation in NYC...In other news, former fiancé David Otunga has won custody of he and Jennifer Hudson’s 8-year old son, David Jr., with the court naming him as the primary custodial parent.

Q&A Jill Scott

Hometown: North Philadephia Big Break: Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2005) Current Project: Love Beats Rhymes – Professor Dixon (2017), Untitled Jill Scott Project (2018) It’s been a long walk for North Philly native Jill Scott from an impoverished childhood to a successful career as singer/actress. She cut her professional teeth in the Broadway production of “Rent”. But when she was offered a recording contract, she left the cast and released her first album, “Who Is Jill Scott?, in 2000, which went platinum and catapulted her into the spotlight. She co-stars with Common and Azealia Banks in Love Beats Rhymes, in theaters this month. Before music and acting you wanted to become a teacher, what changed your mind? I enjoy listening and I thought I could have helped somebody if I had a balanced perspective on stuff. I got out of teaching because I didn’t feel there was enough support system for teachers. People who really want to educate children need all the support they can get. I felt my efforts were being ignored, diminished and criticized. Children need music. The first thing they learn is the ABCs and they sing that. They, too, can learn everything through music, but I was told I was young and idealistic and I would get over it. I felt disrespected and thought I should find something to do for the love of it. You have a unique sense of style and music, how do you manage to maintain that in such a competitive industry? I tried to be something I’m wasn’t for a minute, but I realized I hated it. I feel like nothing else suits me but me so I might as well just do this. Your last album was “Woman”, why did you chose that title? I’ve been waiting to get here for a long time. I’m grown. I’m going to say what I feel. I associate myself with elder women because they’ve got great stories and great advice. My grandmother told me that the man is the stem and the woman is the flower and he must always be looking up on her. He’s the root and she’s the blossom from that. What was a turning point for you in your career? Performing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert. When I stood before kings and queens of the world, and rulers, I just thought this is amazing. You recently starred in the Lifetime movie, “Flint”, what motivated you to take the role? I had actually experienced something like it when two years ago, I moved to a rural community and the ice was tasting funny. I decided to have my water tested. When I saw what was in my water, I was shocked. It looked like sludge. Now the water that comes onto my property is filtered completely from the toilet water to the shower water. [Sadly] where ever you live in the United States, there’s a very big possibility that this country’s water standards are not up to par. Which do you prefer—singing or acting? I love it all. I write poetry. I have a line of Mahogany cards for Hallmark. I’m writing music. I’m directing photo shoots. There is a television series that I’m creating and a film that’s been in my heart for some time. It all feeds my soul.

Calendar of events


Sunday, December 3

Exhibition: We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-85 Examines the political, social, cultural, and aesthetic priorities of women of color during the emergence of second-wave feminism. Artists represented include Elizabeth Catlett, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Loïs Mailou Jones, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Carolyn Lawrence, Samella Lewis, Alison Saar, Betye Saar, and Carrie Mae Weems Tues - Sat 10am-5:00pm; Sun 11am - 5pm Free • (Parking: $12) California African American Museum 600 State Drive Exposition Park (213) 744-7432 On Stage: “Hamilton” Check online for times/prices Hollywood Pantages Theatre 6233 Hollywood Blvd Contact: (323) 468-1770 Los Angeles Auto Show (Through December 10) Tickets: $5-15 9am -10pm L.A. Convention Center 1201 S. Figueroa Street Information: (310) 444-1850

Will Downing’s Soulful Sounds of Christmas 8:00pm • Call for ticket pricing City National Grove of Anaheim 2200 East Katella Avenue Anaheim Contact: (714) 712-2700 J Spot Presents a Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Dick Gregory, featuring Paul Mooney and Friends 6pm/9:30pm • $45 The J Spot Comedy Club 5581 West Manchester Avenue

Tuesday, December 5 Book Signing: Kareem AbdulJabbar (“Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off The Court”) Barnes & Noble 189 The Grove Drive Information: (323) 525-0270

ally rich take on the perennial holiday classic Performed by her famed Dance Academy Starring Debbie Allen, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Tichina Arnold and more Thurs/Fri: 7:30pm • Fri: 1pm/7pm • Sun: 2pm $50–$115 Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd Redondo Beach

Friday, December 8 The Brotherhood Crusade Pioneer of African American Achievement Award Dinner Honoring Jim Hill 7pm- 8pm • $500 Beverly Hilton Hotel 9876 Wilshire Blvd.

Wednesday, December 6 In Concert: Tank & Leela James: Savage X The Soul Tour 7:00pm • $22-$99 The Belasco Theater 1050 South Hill Street

Thursday, December 7 On Stage:"Hot Chocolate Nutcracker" (Through Sunday, Dec. 10) Debbie Allen's hilarious and cultur-

Information: (323) 846-1649

Saturday, December 9 “A Winter Wonderland Holiday Event” at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Features: snow sledding, food trucks, live musical performances, photo booth, S’mores bar, giveaways and more Noon – 4pm • Free 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Info: (323) 290-6636 Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade & Fireworks 5:55pm-6pm: Fireworks Show • Free 6pm – 8pm: 54th Annual Boat Parade • Free Burton Chace Park 13650 Mindanao Way In Concert: Colors of Christmas With Peabo

EvENT SpOTLIGHT Saturday, December 9 27th Annual DIVAS Simply Singing! 6pm– 10pm• $150 – $350 Taglyan Complex 1201 Vine Street Los Angeles, CA 90038

L.A. Focus/December 2017

Kelly Rowland attends the Billboard Women In Music 2017 at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center


at is arrive iola Dav d Film V , e g li B o Mary J. Hollywo Annual the 21st a Aw rds

CMA att the 2017 LA Naomi Campbell A CM LA at Art + Film gala

Toni Brax ton and h er two son attend th e 2017 So ul Train M s Awards w usic here she re cord the Legend A ward

Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins of Bell Biv Devoe attend the 2017 Soul Train Music Awards

Wendy Raquel Robinson, Karen Bass, Mark Ridley Thomas, Lisa Collins, and Cece Winans at The L.A. Focus 20th Annual First Ladies High Tea

Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Oprah Winfrey, Rutina Wesley, Kofi Siriboe, Tina Lifford and Ava DuVernay at the “Queen Sugar” red carpet finale

Bryson, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., Ruben Studdard, and Jody Watley 8pm • $55–$100 Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts 12700 Center Court Drive Contact: (562) 916-8500 In Concert: Take 6 and Friends Special appearance by the Manhattan Transfer 8:30pm/10:30pm • $45-$55 Catalina Bar & Grill 6725 W. Sunset Blvd 64th Annual Compton Christmas Parade Grand Marshall: Anthony Anderson Free • 11AM – 2PM Compton Blvd —From Bullis Road to Alameda St

Sunday December 10 Discussion: An Evening with Jenifer Lewis (Discussing her memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood) 7pm • $20-$45

Bootleg Theater 2220 Beverly Boulevard Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys 21st Annual Benefit Concert Special Guests: Andra Day, Pharrell, Savion Glover & Tony Bennett 8PM • $29.50 - $159.50 Staples Center 1111 S. Figueroa Street Joyful Joyful Dessert Walk & Old Fashioned Bake Sale Presented by Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship Featuring cookie decorating and baked goods for sale Free entry • 1PM 2085 South Hobart Blvd Information: (213) 400-3489 14th Annual Pastor’s Appreciation for Rueben Ford Guest Preacher: Rev. Mark E. Whitlock 3:30PM • Free First AME Santa Monica 1823 Michigan Avenue Information: (310) 450-0331

In Concert: Jhene Aiko, Willow Smith & More $33- $45 • 8pm The Novo 800 W Olympic Blvd Contact: (213) 765-7015

(Putting Your Life Together After A Loss) Free • 9AM – 1PM 333 W. Florence Ave Inglewood Register: (310) 846-3243

Saturday, December 16

In Concert: Dianne ReevesChristmas Time 8pm • $38-$98 Walt Disney Concert Hall 111 South Grand Ave

In Concert: The O’Jays Holiday Show 8pm • $70–$100 Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts 12700 Center Court Drive Contact: (562) 916-8500 In Concert: Power 106 Cali Christmas with Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott $45 - 348 • 7:30pm The Forum 3900 W. Manchester Blvd Info: (310) 330-7300 Urban Fitness 911 SoulCycle Ride 'Tis the season to inspire, lead, support and ride for a great cause! 2pm-3pm • $150 -$350 SoulCycle 8570 Sunset Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90069 Grief Workshop

Wednesday, December 20

Wednesday, December 20 In Concert: Method Man & Redman $29.50 – 39.50 • 7pm The Novo 800 W Olympic Blvd Contact: (213) 765-7015

Thursday, December 21 In Concert: Jay Z 4:44 Tour $39 - 366 • 7:30pm The Forum 3900 W. Manchester Blvd Information: (310) 330-7300 Kirk Whalum presents 2017 A Gospel According to Jazz Christmas 7:30pm • $35-$45 West Angeles Church

3045 Crenshaw Blvd

Saturday, December 23 Special Needs Network 9th Annual Christmas Care Brunch + Lunch w. Santa 9AM – 4PM • Free (Registration is required) 5300 Angeles Vista Blvd Contacts: (323) 291-7100

Sunday, December 24 58th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration Emmy-nominated holiday show featuring music ensembles, choirs & dance companies from around the city 3pm–6pm • Free (first come, first seated) Music Center Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 135 N. Grand Ave. Contact: (213) 972-3099

Tuesday, December 26 16th Annual Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Parade Candle lighting, live music, drum circle, children’s village, authentic crafts & food (Through January 1)

around los angeles Wednesday, December 13

Compton Mayor Aja Brown, Master P and Cymphonique Miller attend the 4th Annual Compton Thanksgiving

ana Ross, and Smokey Robinson, Di at the 2017 ive Berry Gordy arr Awards sic Mu can Ameri

Wednesday, December 27 In Concert: Bryson Tiller $60- $70 • 7pm The Novo 800 W Olympic Blvd Contact: (213) 765-7015

Saturday, December 30 In Concert: The Dramatics featuring Willie Ford 9pm • $58 - $89 The Saban 8440 Wilshire Blvd Beverly Hills Contact: (888) 645-5006

Sunday, December 31 In Concert: Dave Chappelle & John Mayer $79 – 491+ • 9pm The Forum 3900 W. Manchester Blvd Information: (310) 330-7300

Michael Fisher, First Lady Marnessa and Dr. Bobby Jones at the L.A. Focus’ 20th Annual First La dies High Tea

L.A. Focus/December 2017

n and Denzel Reverend Al Sharpto e 'Roman J th d en Washington att iere Israel Esquire' Prem

10am–7pm • Free Leimert Park Village (between 43rd St and 43rd Pl) 4330 Degnan Blvd Contact: (323) 789-0580


Eye On Gospel And the Nominees Are… The anticipation is over as the Recording Academy has announced the nominees for the 60th Grammy Awards. No surprise here that CeCe Winans picked up two nods. One for Best Gospel Performance/Son for “Never Have To Be Alone” and another for Best Gospel Album for her latest offering “Let Them Fall In Love.” Le’Andria Johnson was another double nominee for her album “Bigger Than Me.” Other nominees in the Best Gospel Performance/Song include: Tina Campbell (Too Hard Not To); JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise Featuring Bishop Cortez Vaughn (You Deserve It); The Walls Group (My Life). Rounding out the nominees for Best Gospel Album are Travis Greene (Crossover: Live From Music City); Marvin Sapp (Close); Anita Wilson (Sunday Song)…Last month, the NAACP also announced the nominees for its 49th Annual Image Awards and congrats are in order for the following artists— Marvin Sapp (Close); Travis Greene (Crossover: Live From Music City); Various Artists (Greenleaf Soundtrack Volume 2); CeCe Winans (Let Them Fall In Love) and Tasha Cobbs Leonard (Heart. Passion. Pursuit)—all of whom will face off in the category of “ o u t s t a n d i n g gospel/Christian album).

Whatever Happened to DeLeon Sheffield

CeCe Winans

At the tender age of nine, DeLeon Sheffield became the youngest person to be nominated for a Grammy Award. But by then Sheffield was already a seasoned pro. In fact, the Chicago native was

just five when she debuted at the Chicago Gospel Festival and went on to wow gospel audiences as “the young gospel sensation”. She toured the world, opening for the Legendary Mighty Clouds of Joy in Japan. She’s recorded seven CDs, two DVDs and shared the stage with some of the biggest names in gospel music. So where is she today? Armed with the support of her husband, baseball legend Gary Sheffield, “Sheffield Real Estate” follows Sheffield and her family as she manages her fast-growing real estate business, all while raising a family. DeLeon and her outspoken business partner and mother Debbie, help upscale clients find their dream home in Tampa Bay. As a wife, mother to three young boys, and co-owner of a busy and bustling luxury real estate agency, balancing family and a successful career is no easy feat. However, DeLeon handles the chaos with poise, strength and definitely some laughs along the way! The show airs Thursdays on the FYI Television Network.

Get Ready For The Glory Experience Preashea Hillard will end a six-year hiatus from the gospel music scene with the release of The Glory Experience. The Houston native—and daughter of Bishop I.V. Hilliard— is prepping the 15-track worship CD for release in April, “I pray that every listener will receive ‘many’ miracles ... In every aspect of their lives whenever they play this record, wherever they are listening,” said Hilliard. “Whatever moment they are in, that God will reveal to them how His Hand is working in every area of their lives. “I hope that they will experience miracles, whether great testimonies or something as honest and small as having a better morning than yesterday ... God is always working.” The Glory Experience was recorded live at her father’s church, the New Light Christian Center North, in 2015. Two stand-outs “No God Like Our God” and “You Amaze Me” (written by Tasha Cobbs) can easily be described as modern day Psalms. Vanguards in the grow-

L.A. Focus/December 2 017

Re d Carpet Style


Diana Ross in an elegant midnight blue and black gown with her award as her main accessory.

KELLY ROWLAND looking lovely in her black v-cut and sheer sleeved dress.

ing gospel-worship movement, Hilliard, and Cobbs represent the future and the collaboration of the two on “You Amaze Me,” resulted in an absolute anthem. “No God Like Our God,” the album’s first single is distinctly praise and worship. She formulated the song while leading praise and worship during a mid-week service. “I had been singing this hook in our church ... ‘there is no God like our God.’ At the time I didn’t think it was a song or anything ... but I sang it a few years ago at Tasha’s (Cobbs) conference and she pushed me to put it on the album,” Hilliard said. “It is one of those songs that everybody loves and gravitates to and I believe it is something that people can use in their houses of worship and in their own personal time.”

Briefly: Siblings Darrel Walls, Rhea Walls, Paco Walls, and Ahjah Walls (aka The Walls Group) celebrated a #1 debut on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums Chart for their new album The Other Side. Their album is also a hit in Gospel album streaming in its first week of release, garnering over 883,000 first week streams across music streaming services. åThe 12-track third album release marks the Grammy-nominated group’s second consecutive #1 debut on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums Chart, following the debut of their second studio album, Fast Forward, in 2014…Bishop Hezekiah Walker has been named a brand ambassador for Loans From Lisa and will spearhead the company’s first ever nationwide Mortgage Seminar Church Tour…Tyscot Records founder, recording artist and respected pastor, Dr. Leonard Scott has released his third book, The Ultimate Boost from Within: 31 Days to Health, Wealth, Wholeness and Happiness. Combining his many years of experience both in the health industry and in his ministry endeavors, Dr. Leonard Scott has put together much of his insights and learnings in attaining health, wellbeing and happiness in his new book. The book, published in 2017, reveals ways on how one’s own efforts or actions can work in creating their overall wellbeing. He says trying the triedand-true prescription he lays out in the book for thirtyone days, can not only add years to one’s life but life to their years as well.

Celebrities attend The 45th Annual American Music Awards which took place, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California.

VIOLA DAVIS wearing a beautiful white gown with diamond accessories.

CORINNE FOXX in a cute jumpsuir with am embroidered clutch bag.

TRACEE ELLIS ROSS rocking a sparkling deep purple gown.


L.A. Focus






ChurchNews Faithful Central To Open Campus on Skid Row


ou shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world." (Acts 1:8). It was this biblical commission that led to the birth of the extension of Faithful Central Bible Church in the corridors of Skid Row Los Angeles,” said Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer of his churches opening of a new location on Skid Row. With a ministry that is seen around the country, in the United Kingdom, Western Europe and parts of Africa, Ulmer, the senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church prayed about how he might be even more effective in his own backyard. The answer, came ironically enough, in the form of an inquiry from Rev. Andy Bales and the leadership of Unions Rescue Mission asking that he bring his church to Skid Row. “Most churches,” said Ulmer, “leave the skid rows of their community. Several, like us, visit this economically depressed, crime filled community during holidays and even fewer on a monthly or even weekly basis. However, very few if any "plant a congregation" on skid row. “Our goal is that this will be an extension of our comprehensive ministry based in Inglewood. Union Rescue Mission is unique in its policy of never turning away women with children. However, the Mission has little or no programs or services that target women and children. We plan to extend our ministry to serve this population. We have engaged a site pastor who will lead our ministry on the Row. This campus will be called Champions of the Row - COR. Our call and vision is "Building champions for divine deployment." The new campus will launch with a weekly full blown worship service with praise and worship, music and hospitality services, housed in the Chapel of URM and extend to discipleship, after school tutoring for the children, training in employment preparation, interviewing techniques and positioning men and women and children to live successful victorious lives. The church is presently in discussions with the Mission and our technology ministries over the possibly of simulcasting the messages from Inglewood to COR, with all other elements of our Sunday gatherings being live. Counseling will also be provided through The Ulmer Institute, a professional staff of psychologists and social workers trained in a unique Israeli pre- and post trauma technique developed by Dr Ulmer’s partner, Dr Eyal Fruchter, former chief medical officer for the Israeli Army. “We are called to encourage, inspire and equip men and women to live victorious lives,” Ulmer states. “We believe there are champions on skid row.”

Church of God In Christ Urges St. Louis Mayor to Act on Police Relations Leveraging its power as one of the largest denominations in the nation, Bishop Charles E. Blake held a news conference during his annual convocation to announce his solidarity with the African-American community in St. Louis in their protest of the recent verdict in the 2011 killing of Anthony Lamar Smith by former white police officer Jason Stockley. He went on to note that the city stood to lose millions if the Church of God In Christ decided to move its annual convention. “As pastoral leaders, we understand the frustration and outrage of citizens at yet another failure of justice regarding the shooting death of a black man at the hands of a police officer,” Blake stated in a letter to Mayor Lyda Krewson. “As an organization, we have been responsible for generating over $125 million dollars in the St. Louis regional economy over the past seven years, so we must also challenge responsible parties to correct the wrongs of a justice system that is deeply broken.” The list of suggestions Blake provided to the Mayor included independent investigations by a separate law enforcement agency; a circuit attorney’s review; body cameras; subpoena power for the Citizen Oversight Board; and the city’s adoption of the Ferguson Commission Report.

Agape Church of Los Angeles Worship Center Consolidated Plaza: 3725 Don Felipe Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90008 Corprate Office: 4602 Crenshaw Blvd, Suite 2A, Los Angeles, CA 90043 (323) 295-5571 Bishop Craig A. Worsham, Founder & Senior Pastor Sunday School: 10:00am Morning Worship: 11:00am Loving, Lifting & Liberating Humanity Through The Word Bethel Missionary Baptist Church of South L.A. 10905 S. Compton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90059 (323) 566.5286 Pastor Reginald A. Pope Sunday School: 9:30am Morning Worship: 8am • 11am Children’s Church: 11am (2nd/4th Sundays) Evangelism Training/Bible Study/Independent Prayer: (Mon): 7:29pm Mobile Prayer/Bible Study: (Wed) 11am Book by Book Bible Study (Wed.): 6:30pm Bryant Temple AME Church 2525 W. Vernon Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90008 (323) 293-6201 • F: (323) 293-0082 Pastor Dwain Jackson Sunday School: 8:15am Morning Worship: 10:00 am Bible Study (Tues): Noontime Pastor’s Bible Study( Tues): 6:00pm

Christ The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church 3303 W. Vernon Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90008 (323) 295-4139 • F: (323) 295-4681 Rev. Joseph Oloimooja Sunday School: 10:00am Early Worship: 8:00am Morning Worship: 10:00am Mon. Centering Prayer/Meditation: 6:30pm Mon. Overeaters Anonymous: 7:00pm Wed. Bible Study & Eucharist: 7:00pm Wed. Alcoholic Anonymous: 7:00pm E: Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship 2085 S. Hobart Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90018 Phone: (323) 731-8869 • F: (323) 731-0851 Pastor James K. McKnight Sun. Early Worship: 8:00am Prayer Meeting: 10:30am Morning Worship: 11:00am Wed. Afternoon Bible Study: 1:00pm Wed. Prayer Meeting: 6:00pm Wed. Evening Bible Study: 7:00pm View Pastor McKnight’s Sermons on YouTube Crenshaw Christian Center 7901 South Vermont, Los Angeles, CA 90044 (323) 758-3777 • F: (323)565-4231 • Apostle Frederick K.C. Price, Founder Sunday Service: 9:45am Bible Study (Tue): 11:00am & 7:00pm Tue. Night Children’s Ministry: 7:00pm Tue. Night Bible Study (Teens): 7:00pm Alcohol & Drug Abuse Program (Wed): 7:00pm

First AME Church (FAME) 2270 South Harvard Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90018 (323) 735-1251 • F: (323) 735-3353 • Pastor J. Edgar Boyd, Senior Pastor/CEO Sunday School: 10:00am Worship: 8:00am, 10:00am, Noon Teen Church (2nd Sundays):Noon,Allen House Wed. Prayer Service: Noon Wed. Bible Study: 7:00pm Radio: 10:30am on KJLH-102.3FM First AME is the oldest Black Church in the City Grant AME Church 10435 S. Central Avenue • Los Angeles, CA 90002 (323) 564-1151 • F: (323) 564-5027 Rev. Dr. J. Arthur Rumph, Senior Pastor Sunday School: 8am Worship: 9:30am Wed. Bible Study: 11:30am •6pm

Grace Temple Baptist Church 7017 South Gramercy Place, Los Angeles, CA 90047 (323) 971-8192 Bishop Miquail M. Broadous Sr., Senior Pastor Sunday School: 9am Morning Worship: 10:00am Wednesday Worship: 6:45pm E-Mail: Grace United Methodist Church 4112 West Slauson Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90043 (323) 294-6653 • F: (323) 294-8753 • Rev. Pastor Paul A. Hill • Early Morning Worship: 7:45am Sunday School: 9:45am Morning Worship: 10:45am Wed. Bible Study: Noon & 7:00pm Fri. Alcoholic Anonymous: 7:00pm Tues. Prayer Fellowship: 6:30pm Super Seniors (Thurs/Bi-Monthly): 10:30am Follow us on Facebook Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church 5300 S. Denker Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90062 (323) 759-4996 Rev. DeNon Porter Early Worship: 8am Sunday School: 9:30am Mid-Morning Worship: 11am Radio-KALI 900AM: Sun. 11-Noon, 7-8pm KTYM 1460AM Sundays: 5:30pm Bible Study (Tues, Wed & Thurs): 7pm

Holman United Methodist Church 3320 W. Adams Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90018 (323) 731-7285 • F: (323) 731-2609 • Rev. Kelvin Sauls Sunday School: 9:30am(Youth) & 9:45(Adult) Sunday Worship: 8am and 11am Morning Worship: 11:00am Bible Study (Thurs.): Noon Sun. Radio: KJLH 102.3FM: 11:00am Praise and Worship: 2nd Wed’s 6:30pm-8:00pm Jazz for the Soul: 4th Wed’s 6:30pm-8:00pm Gather, Grow, Go and Live The Gospel Jesus Christ

Liberty Baptist Church 1500 West 51st Place, Los Angeles, CA 90062 (323) 295-3866 • F: (323) 295-0366 • E: Rev. Terry Lovell Brown Sr. Sunday Church School: 9:00am Morning Worship: 10:30am & 12:30pm Wed. Bible Study: noon & 6:30pm Prayer Meeting: 6:00pm Follow us on Twitter @dacrossculture Mt. Moriah Baptist Church of LA, Inc. 4269 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90037 (323) 846-1950 Rev. Melvin V. Wade, Sr. Sunday School: 8:15am Morning Worship: 9:45am Evening Worship: 6:30pm Mid-Week Worship (Wed): 7:00pm Bible Study (Wed.): 8:00pm

Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles 3669 W. 54th St. Los Angeles, CA 90043 • (323) 291-1121

F: (323) 291-1133 • • Pastor George E. Hurtt, Pastor-Teacher Sunday Worship: 8:00am, 11:00am Discipleship Hour (Sun): 9:37am Noonday Prayer (Mon): Noon Noonday Bible Study (Tue): 12:00pm Tuesday Night in the Truth: Email: • Our Goal: To win more Christians & develop better Christians to the glory of God. (Matt. 28:18-20) Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church 1300 E. 50th Street Los Angeles, CA 90011 (323) 235-2103 • F: (323) 235-3177 • Dr. Edward V. Hill, II, Pastor Sunday Intercessory Prayer: 9:15am Morning Worship: 9:30am Children’s Church: 9:30am Sunday School: 11:30am Baptism: 2nd Sun. & Lord’s Supper: 1st. Sun. Tues. Pastor’s Bible Study: 6:30pm Wed. Noon-day Prayer: Noon

New Antioch Church of God in Christ 7826 So. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90044 (323) 778-7965 Elder Jeffrey M. Lewis

People’s Independent Church of Christ 5856 West Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90043 • (323) 296-5776 Sundays: Morning Worship: 8:00am & 11:00am Wednesday Bible Study & Mid Week Worship: Noon & 7:00pm Prayer Meeting: 6:30pm

Sunday Early Morning Worship: 8:00am Sunday School: 9:30 am Morning Worship: 11:00am Tuesday Prayer and Bible Band: 11:00am Wednesday Bible Study: 7:30pm Wednesday in the Word: 7:30pm

New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church 402 E. El Segundo Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90061 (310)324-0644 • F: (310) 769-1287 Rev. Sonja Dawson, Senior Pastor • Rev. Lonnie Dawson, Sr., Founder (1962 - 2010) Morning Worship: 7:30am & 10:45am Sunday School: 9:45am Wed. Prayer/Bible Study: Noon Pastor’s Bible Study: 7:00pm

Church Founded by Della Reese Announces New Leadership Team The entertainment world and fans alike mourned the passing of legendary actress and singer Della Reese last month. While most known for her starring role in the hit CBS series “Touched By An Angel” and memorable appearances in “Harlem Nights”, “Chico and the Man” and “Sanford & Son”, members of the Inglewood-based Understanding Principles For Better Living Church she founded in 1987 knew her simply as their minister. “My ministry is a teaching ministry,” Della told L.A. Focus in 2006. “God has left us some rules and principles and He has promised us if we will just use them, that it is impossible for us to fail.” The church remembered their beloved Rev. Della, with the following words: “She loved us; she taught us; she made us better. We are forever grateful to have known her and experienced her in our lifetime. “We stand on the spiritual principles she instilled us. We know that death is but a transition from the body. Life is eternal. While we may

St. Matthew Tabernacle of Praise “The S.T.O.P.” 1740 West 59th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90047 Mailing Address: P.O. Box 56608, Los Angeles, CA 90056 (323) 291-1115 • F: (323) 293-0471 Rev. C.Barry Greene, Pastor Sunday Worship Service: 8:00am PrayerLine: (Tuesday & Wednesday): 6:00am WordLine (Tuesday): 7:00pm ( (712) 775-7031 Access Code: 814352108) E:

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church 2009 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90062 (323) 293-6448 • F: (323) 293-6605 Dr. Sylvester Washington Sunday School: 8:00am Morning Worship: 10:00am Tues. Bible Study: 11:00am Wed. Evangelism Class: 6:30pm First Sun. Holy Communion Service: 4:00pm

Southern Saint Paul Church 4678 West Adams Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016 (323) 731-2703 • Rev. Xavier L. Thompson, Senior Pastor/Teacher L.I.F.E. Groups Sundays: 9:30am Morning Worship Service: 11:00am Baptism & Communion (First Sunday): 4:00pm Weekly Bible Enrichment Tuesdays: 7:00pm North Campus: 9:00am Wednesday Bible Enrichment: 7:00pm 11137 Herrick Av • Pacoima 91331 (818) 899-8031 • “Loving People Making Disciples”


shed many tears, we know that she expects us to live full lives and act like the children of God that we are. “As the keepers of Rev. Della’s legacy, we are proud to carry on the spiritual tradition she introduced us to — one that insists that with God you cannot fail.” The church has installed a new leadership team in Senior Minister, Rev. Sherri James and Assistant Minister, Rev. Sheree Thompson. New Tax Bill Could Give Churches Greater Role in partisan politics Among the changes in the tax bill being proposed by the Trump administration is a provision that would roll back the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which banned churches and

One Church International 614 N. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (818) 763-4521 • Sr. Pastor Toure’ Roberts Sunday Worship: 9:00am, 11:00am & 1:00pm Wednesday Midweek Service: 8pm—View live streaming

Paradise Baptist Church 5100 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90037 (323) 231-4366 Dr. Aaron Iverson Pastor’s Bible Class & Sunday School: 8am Morning Worship: 9:30am Tues. Prayer: 7:00pm Tues. Bible Study: 8:00pm

Morning Worship: 8:00am & 11:00am Bible Study Wednesday: Noon & 7:00pm Communion: 1st Sunday at 8:00am & 11:00am

Praises of Zion Baptist Church (“Praise City”) 8222 So. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90003 (323) 750-1033 • F: (323) 750-5458 • Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick, Sr. Pastor Early Morning Worship: 6:45am Educational Hour: 9:15am Mid-Morning Worship: 10:45am Wed. Bible Study: Noon & 7:00pm Sunday Morning Broadcast: 5:30am Live Streaming Sundays: 12:00pm Price Chapel AME Church 4000 W. Slauson Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90043 (323) 296-2406 • Rev. Benjamin Hollins Sunday Worship Service: 10:00am Sunday School: 8:30am Power Lunch Bible Study (Wed): 11:00am Praise & Worship Bible Study (Wed): 6:30pm

St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church 5017 S. Compton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011 (323) 231-1040 • Rev. Dr. Lovely Haynes Sunday Morning Worship: 8:00am & 11:00am Sunday School: 9:30am Mon-Wed: Prayer Bible Study: 6:00 - 6:55 pm Mon. Night Bible Study: 7:00pm Tue Choir Rehersal Wednesday Prayer: Noon Wed. Exposition of Sunday School Lesson: 7pm Wed. Prayer Meeting: 7:00pm Thurs. Evangelism: 7:00pm (enrollment required)

Trinity Baptist Church 2040 West Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018 (323) 735-0044 • F: (323) 735-0219 Rev. Alvin Tunstill, Jr Sunday Worship: 7:30 & 10:30am Sunday Church School: 9:00am Radio Broadcast KJLH FM: 9:00am Wed. Prayer & Bible Study: Noon-7:00pm

UpLift Christian Fellowship 4745 W. Slauson Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90056 (310) 927-3476 Pastor Anthony Thompson Sunday Worship: 10:00am Bible Study Wednesday: 7:00pm

Weller Street Baptist Church 129 S. Gless St, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (323) 261-0949 • F: (323)264-6601 • Pastor K.W. Tulloss Sunday School: 8:00am Sunday Morning Worship: 9:00am Tues. Bible Study: 6:45pm “We have not walked this way before” Joshua 3:1-6

L.A. Focus/December 2017

Park Windsor Baptist Church 1842 W. 108th St. Los Angeles, CA 90047 (323) 756-3966 • Rev. Terrell Taylor

non-profits from supporting political candidates. Under current IRS regulations, churches are restricted in the amount of political activity and lobbying they can do. During his campaign, President Trump promised to repeal the ban. The change could turn churches into a well-funded political force, with donors diverting as much as $1.7 billion each year from traditional political committees to churches that could legally engage in partisan politics for the first time. As churches would be able to actively promote political candidates, there is the fear that religious leaders will be more pressured to take sides in campaigns. Some campaign finance experts have said that eliminating the Johnson amendment could effectively make houses of worship political operations. According to Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute, “This, presumably, would encourage some people to give to churches in order to further their political interests and those contributions would be tax deductible.”


West Angeles Church of God In Christ 3045 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016 (323) 733-8300 Bishop Charles E. Blake

Sunday School: 8:00am & 10:30am Early Worship: 8:00am Morning Worship: 11:00am Evening Worship (North Campus): 7:00pm Wed. Mid-Week Worship: 7:00pm Sun. Radio Broadcast KJLH 102.3FM: 10:00am

In Altadena

Lifeline Fellowship Christian Center 2556 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, CA 91001 (626) 797-3585 • F: (626) 797-3233 • Pastor Charles D. Dorsey Sunday School: 9:00am Early Worship (Glory Prayer): 8:00am Morning Worship: 10:30am Evening Worship (1st & 2nd Sun.): 5:00pm Wed. Bible Study: 7:00pm Peace Apostolic Church 21224 Figueroa Street, Carson, CA 90745 (310) 212-5673 Suff. Bishop Howard A. Swancy

In Carson

Sunday School: 10:00am Morning Worship: 11:45am Evening Worship: 6:30pm Wed. Noon Day Bible Class: 12:30pm Wed. Bible Class: 7:30pm

Citizens of Zion Missionary Baptist Church In Compton 12930 No. Lime Ave., Compton, CA 90221 (310) 638-0536 • F: (323) 636-2080 • Rev. Bobby Newman, Jr., Senior Pastor; Rev. B.T. Newman, Pastor (Pastor Emeritus) Sunday School: 9:00am Morning Service: 10:45am Wed. Mid-Week Bible Study: 7:00pm

Greater Zion Church Family 2408 North Wilmington Avenue, Compton, CA 90222 (310) 639-5535 • E: Reverend Michael J. Fisher & Dr. W. Jerome Fisher, Pastor Emeritus

The City of Refuge 14527 S. San Pedro Street, Gardena, CA 90248 (310) 516-1433 Bishop Noel Jones

In Gardena

Morning Worship: 8:00am & 11:00am Evening Worship: 6:00pm Bible Study (Wed): Noon & 7:00pm BET/Fresh Oil (Wed): 7:00am

The Liberty Church 14725 S. Gramercy Place, Gardena, CA 90249 (310) 715-8400 Pastor David W. Cross

Sunday Morning Worship: 9:00am, 11:00am & 5:00pm Wed. Bible Studies: Noon-7:00pm

Early Worship: 8:30am Morning Worship: 9am & 11am Children’s Church: Both Services Word Power Wed.: 7-8pm

Love and Unity Christian Fellowship 1840 S. Wilmington Ave, P.O. Box 5449, Compton 90220 (310) 604-5900 Fax: (310) 604-5915 Dr. Ron C Hill Sunday Morning Worship: 8:00am & 11:30am Sunday Evening Worship: 6:30pm Bible Studies: Wed. 7:30pm & Sat. 9am Food for Your Soul Radio & Television Ministry: beblessedwebradio: Mon - Fri. 6:30am Church Channel: Tues. 5:30pm & Fri. 2:30pm

Atherton Baptist Church 2627 W. 116th Street Hawthorne,CA 90250 (323) 757-3113 • F: 323-757-8772 • Pastor Larry Weaver

In Hawthorne

Sunday Morning Worship: 8:00am & 11:00 am Sunday Bible Enrichment Class: 9:45am Mon.-Thurs. Bible Study: 7:00pm Wednesday Bible Study: 12:30pm & 7:00pm

Pastor Profile: Pastor Don McPhaull

L.A. Focus/December 2017

Church: Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist How Many Years At Church: Four years Family: Married 49 Years to Gladdis, 4 children Education: Oakwood College Home Town: Omaha, Nebraska You were a popular L.A. radio personality turned Capitol Records executive, what brought you to the ministry? Well, it’s a complex road that’s really quite simple. One Friday night in L.A., I overdosed on freebase and was actually dying. God stepped in and got my full attention. He told me that He had work for me to do. Were you raised in church? Did you know God? I was raised in church, but at 15 my father died. I was very angry with God and I told my mother I’m finished with this whole Jesus thing, and if the best He could do for you is to leave you with five children and medium income, then He’s a joke. So I turned my back on Him. But He didn’t turn His back on me and I am so thankful. So instead you chose radio? Since I was 8 years old I wanted to be on radio in Los Angeles. The United States Air Force took me to Oxnard in 1968. I went to Vietnam for a year and when I came back I went to Don Martin radio school in L.A. How long after your overdose in 1980 did your transformation take? It took time for me to be different. [The overdose] happened about four in the morning and by 6:30am, God let me go to sleep. Then at 7:30 I heard a voice say, ‘Get up’. On Saturdays, I didn’t get up before noon, but I got up and got dressed. I had no idea where I was going. When I got to the Berean Seventh Day Adventist Church I heard a voice say stop. I walked in the door and asked the lady I met at the door, ‘whom do I talk to about joining this church?’ It began there. Did you know you were called the ministry then? I did not. But I kept thinking there was something more I needed to be doing. I just didn’t know what it was. Then in October of 1981, my mother had a massive heart attack. I was in Chicago for a music convention and I broke into tears. I loved


my mother and I heard the voice of God say if you’ve ever trusted in me before, trust me now. The next morning on my way to the airport I called the hospital to see how she was doing and the nurses said your mother is sitting up eating breakfast and the doctors don’t understand how. But I understood. That’s the day I gave God my heart totally and He said when you get back to L.A. give your employer 30 days’ notice and come serve me. So, November 30, 1981, I resigned from Capitol Records, packed everything up and headed east to serve in ministry. Was it difficult to leave L.A. and the lifestyle you’d become accustomed to? No, I knew if I stayed and didn’t obey, chances are I’d end up dead. I’m just finishing a book and I’m bring all those points out in a chapter “The Rich Getting Richer” because we get tickets for everything, we paid for nothing and with an expense account you were able to do what you wanted to do without using your own money. How did you get caught up with drugs? I had gotten someone tickets to see Michael Jackson and I knew they wanted to give me money. I told him no and he said I have to say thank you, so at least take a hit of this. It turned out to be freebase and with that one hit my knees buckled and my life changed. For six months I was binging until I overdosed. Most people had no idea what I was doing. I was miserable. I wanted to stop but I couldn’t. Did you bring some of your experiences so people could relate to you? I do bring my experiences in. Early on, I was told by some seasoned pastors that I shouldn’t, but I think that was a mistake. People were sitting in the congregation even today who are struggling with habits. It may

not be drugs, but they are wrestling with habits and they need to know that there is deliverance available. There is hope, there is health and there is heaven. We can by God’s grace make a difference. Where was your first church? My first church had 27 members in Columbia, Missouri. It was a lot of work because I had no staff. Everything was done by me and for first couple of months we met at my house. It was a brand-new church, so that was a different experience. By the time I got to Brooklyn we had about 900 members. I was senior pastor there for eight years. Coming to L.A. 25 years later, I arrived at a church that had 350 members and at one point we got up to 475, and bought Bishop Turner’s church in Inglewood. Then in 2012, I suffered a heart attack and had triple bypass surgery. They thought a smaller church would be easier so I’m now at 79th and Western at Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist, where we have 150 members. I’ve been there for four years and we are in the rebuilding phase. It was the church Little Richard attended when he was living here, and the church spilt at some point. Why Seventh Day Adventist? Because that’s where the Lord took me. I grew up in the holiness church—which was very charismatic, speaking in tongues; prophesying, and laying hands. Adventist don’t do any of that. What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses? My strength is Jesus, and in everything I do I have to lean on Him. My weakness is my own flesh and I have to be careful I don’t ever begin to think that I’m more than I am. I never approach people saying, “Hey, I was Don Mac.” So what? You don’t miss out. You gain more than you would ever give serving God. What do you hope to bring to the community? I went back to school and earned a masters in social work because my dream is to make the church a resource center where individuals can come for counseling, computer literacy, parenting classes, or they can come if food is being distributed. That’s the thing I’d like to see —to make church more than just a one day a week. What’s your recurring theme when preaching? God’s love for each of us. We write people off and that’s not something God will do. He never gives up on us and we should never give up on one another or ourselves.

Victory Institutional Baptist Church 4712 West El Segundo Blvd., Hawthorne, CA 90250 (310) 263-7073 • Pastor Richard Williams, III Sunday Morning Worship: 9:00am Sunday Evening Worship: 6:00pm Wed. Mid-Week Worship: 7:00pm Bible Study Tuesday: Noon & 7:00pm

In Inglewood Bible Enrichment Fellowship International 400 E. Kelso, Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 330-4700 • Dr. Beverly “BAM” Crawford Morning Worship: 9:30am Tues. Bible Study: 7:30pm Wed. Mid-Week Prayer: 5am, Noon & 7:00pm Wednesday Pathway: 7:00pm Thurs Bible Study: 10:00am Sat Marriage & Family Prayer: 7:30am

Blessed Family Covenant Church 325 North Hillcrest Blvd, Inglewood, CA, 90301 (310)-674-0303 • F: (310)-674-0303 • Rev. Wendy Howlett Sunday School: 8:30am Morning Worship: 9:30am Wed. Prayer & Bible Study: 7:00pm

Crusade Christian Faith Center 801 S. La Brea Avenue, Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 330-8535 Bishop Virgil D. Patterson Sr. Wed. Mid-Week Service: 7:00pm Sunday School: 9:00am Sunday Worship: 10:30am

Faithful Central Bible Church 321 N. Eucalyptus Ave. Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 330-8000 • F: (310) 330-8035 Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, Ph.D. Senior Pastor/Teacher Services at The Tabernacle: Sunday Services: 7:00am, 9:30am & 11:45am Wed. Mid-Week Service: 7:00pm The Tabernacle is located at 321 N. Eucalyptus Ave., Inglewood First Church of God Center of Hope 9550 Crenshaw Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90305 (323) 757-1804 Pastor Geremy L. Dixon Morning Worship: 8:00am & 11:00am Wed. Mid-Week Service: Noon Wed. Teaching Ministry: 7:00pm 1st Sunday Communion 5th Sunday Baptism

Jacob’s Ladder Community Fellowship, inc. 1152 E. Hyde Park Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90303 (866) 330-1702 • F: (310) 674-0760 Watchman/Shepherd Dr. Robert T. Douglas Sr. Sunday School: 10:00am Morning Services: 11:45am Evening Service: 7:00pm Wed. Lock & Load Prayer: 7:00pm Wed. Bible Study: 7:30pm 3rd Friday Youth Night: 7:30pm KYTYM 1460AM (Sunday): 11:30am New Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church 434 S. Grevillea, Inglewood CA 90301 (310) 673-6250 Office • (310) 673-2153 Rev. Dr. Phillip A. Lewis, D. D., D. Th., Senior Pastor Sunday School: 9:30am Early Worship: 8:00am Morning Worship: 11:00am First Sunday Evening Worship: 5:00pm Mid-Week Bible Study Wed.: 7:00pm Radio: KTYM 1460 AM Saturdays at 8:00pm & Mondays at 7:00pm

First Lady Files

Gospel Memorial Church of God In Christ 1480 Atlantic Ave. Long Beach, CA 90813 Talicia Oliver (562) 599-7389 • F: 562-599-5779 • Bishop Joe L. Ealy Though she was raised by a mother Sunday School: 9:30am Sunday Worship: 11:00am who was a pastor’s kid and grew up Evening Worship: 6:30pm playing church with her cousins, Wed. Intercessory Prayer: 7:00pm Talisha Oliver says that aspirations to Wed. Pastoral teaching adults: 7:30pm be a pastor’s wife were not in her plans. Wed. Youth Ministry Boot-Camp; Youth Bible But when she married her husband, Overseer Frank C. Study: 7:00pm & Choir Rehearsal: 7:30pm Oliver, pastor of Power of Faith Christian Worship Center

(with campuses in Riverside and Pomona), he had already been pastor for some years so she had to settle into her new role. Married for two years, Oliver, who is an ordained preacher and elder of the church, has settled in quite nicely as a pastor’s wife. She is responsible for the order of service and sings with the praise and worship team at the Pomona location. “As a pastor’s wife, I’m not the traditional do-everything type of pastor’s wife,” says Oliver, mother of a 20-month-old daughter and 14-year-old “bonus” son. “I’m a working wife so there are times I’m not at an event or gathering because of work but my first duty is to be a wife to my husband and make sure that his needs are met. As long as he’s good I’m good. But you can rest assure you will see me Sunday mornings at both services, except when I’m preaching at my grandparent’s church.” Oliver, who works as a television producer, has credits including the shows “Hell’s Kitchen,” “So Sharp,” “Dance Moms,” and “Little Women LA” among others. Juggling family and career is something she’s working to master. “Balance is something I struggle with. My job requires a lot of my attention and time,” says the Southern California native. “Now that we have a newborn, she requires a lot of my attention and time, so if I’m not careful I could find myself neglecting my primary duty as a wife. Bishop T.D. Jakes said, ‘you will fail at something every day but the key to success is not to fail at the same thing two days in a row.’ That has been something I try to live my life by.”

Sun. Worship Experience: 10:45am 3rd Sun. Healing & Annointing: 10:45am Wed. Bible Study: Noon & 6pm Mothers of Murdered Youth & Children Were all receive a little attention, affection and love.

New Philadelphia A.M.E. Church 6380 S. Orange Avenue, Long Beach, Ca 90805 (562)422-9300•F: (562) 422-9400 Pastor Darryl E. Walker, Senior Pastor Worship: 9:00am —1st & 5th Sunday Sunday School/New Member Classes: 8:00am Live Streaming on NuPhilly AppNuPhilly website: 9:00am 2nd thru 4th Sunday Worship:7:30 am &10:00am•Sunday School New Member Classes: 9:00am Live Streaming on the NuPhilly App/website: 7:30am Pastor’s Bible Study: Wednesday Eve 7:00pm Mid-Week Bible Study: Thursday 12:00 noon

Second Baptist Church In Monrovia 925 S. Shamrock Avenue • P.O. Box 479, Monrovia, CA 91017 •(626) 358-2136 • F: (626) 303-2477

True Friendship Missionary Baptist Church 7901 South Van Ness Ave. Inglewood, CA 90305 (323) 750-7304 Rev. James A. Perkins Sunday School: 9:30am Early Worship: 8am Morning Worship: 10:45am Bible Adventure Hour (Tues): 6pm Bible Study (Tues): 7pm Bible Study (Thurs): Noon Christ Our Redeemer AME Church In Irvine 45 Tesla, Irvine, CA 92618 (949) 955-0014 • F:(949) 955-0021 • Pastor Mark E. Whitlock, II Sunday Worship: 8:00am, 10:30am New Generation Praise Service: 10:30am Sun. Bible Univ.: 9:30am Tues. Interactive Bible Study: 7:00pm Wed. Pastor's Bible Study: Noon, 7:00pm Thurs. Bible Study: 7:00pm Fri. Singles Bible Study (1st Fri): 7:00pm Antioch Church of Long Beach 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach, CA 90813 (562) 591-8778 • F: (562) 599-6048 Pastor Wayne Chaney Jr.

Grant AME Church of Long Beach 1129 Alamitos Ave. Long Beach, CA 90813 • (562) 437-1567 • Rev. Michael W. Eagle, Sr.

In Long Beach

Worship Services: 8am, 9:30am, 11:30am Tuesday Youth Bible Study: 7:00pm WednesdayBible Study: Noon

Christ Second Baptist Church 1471 Martin Luther King, Jr., Ave. Long Beach, CA 90813 (562) 599-3421 • Fax: (562) 599-6175 • Rev. Welton Pleasant II, Senior Pastor Sunday School: 8:30am Sunday Worship Service: 9:40am Wed. Bible Study: 7:00pm Wed Youth & Young Adult Ministry: 7:00pm

Family of Faith Christian Center 345 E. Carson Street, Long Beach, CA 90807 (562) 595-1222 • F: (562) 595-1444 Pastor: Sherman A. Gordon, E.D. Min Sunday School: 9:00 AM Early Worship: 7:30 AM Morning Worship: 10:00 Am Bible Study: Every Wednesday 12 (Noon) & 7:00 PM Radio: 7:00 PM (1st & 3rd Sunday) Station: KJLH

Bishop W.M. Larue Dillard, Phd. Sunday Worship: 7:45am, 10:45am, 4:45pm Ministry Worship to Children/Youth Sunday: 9:45am - 10:45am Prayer/Academy of Biblical Studies (Wed): 10:45am - 6:45pm First AME Santa Monica In 1823 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404 (310) 450-0331 F: (310) 450-4680 Facebook: First AME Church Santa Monica Rev. Rueben W. Ford, Pastor

Santa Monica

Sunday School: 9:30am Sunday Worship: 11:00am Bible Study/Prayer Meditation: Thursday 6pm “The Church In The Heart Of The Community with The Community at Heart” Arise Christian Center In Westchester 6949 La Tijera Blvd. Suite C, Westchester, CA 90045 (310)568-8445•F: (310) 568-8430 • Pastor Ron Taylor Morning Worship: 9:00am & 11:15am Bible Study Wednesday: 7:00pm Intercessory Prayer Tuesday : 7:00pm Intercessory Prayer Sunday: 8am - 8:45am Intercessory Prayer Thursday: 11:30pm - 12:30pm Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church 980 Rio Grande Street, Pasadena, CA 91104 *Mailing Address: 1416 N. Mentor Ave. Pasadena, 91104 (626) 794-4875 • F: (626) 794-7815 Pastor W. Harrison Trotter Sunday School: 8:30am Sunday Worship: 10:00am Bible Study Wednesday: 7:00pm Intercessory Prayer (Fourth Wed.): 7:00pm Christians Uniting To Make A Difference -Eph. 4:13 Spirit of Zion Fellowship Church In Van Nuys 10853 Victory Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601 (805) 517-1907 • Pastor E.V. Hill II Sunday Worship: 1:00pm Children's Church: 1:11pm

From the Pulpit: Friendship Pasadena Church “From Bondage to Breakthrough” Revelation 12; Numbers 13


L.A. Focus/December 2017

f all the accounts of people experiencing breakthrough in the word, Israel stands out the most to me because they experience a lot of things. From God’s call of Abraham to these modern times, the nation of people in Israel have had their share of challenges but God has seen them through them all. The Lord will always be faithful to His people. Since we are His people and the sheep of His pasture, then we can expect the very same thing. People will say prophetically that you’re about to experience a breakthrough. God is about to do something incredible in your life today, type amen and share if you believe. I see this on Facebook and it concerns me. It’s like a blanket post and anyone who reads it can take it to heart. You know you get these chain letters that say send this to 20 people immediately and the Lord will provide all of your needs. All of your problems will end if you simply reply to everybody in your inbox. It’s amazing to me how many times I get that from Christian friends. I don’t know if they are rolling the dice and saying I might as well try this because life is tough. But God is very specific in how blessings come our way. God is very specific in how He requires us to live. It’s not a gamble to trust in God, it’s not a crap shoot when we put our faith in Jesus. In the end, things will always work out the way God intends—that’s why the scripture says that all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. It didn’t say all things would be good, but that all things will work together for our good if you love the Lord and you have been called according to His purpose. There is a purpose on the church today like never before. This purpose is not just to make it through the storms that are coming or to escape the crisis in the world. You are on assignment and Jesus made the assignment very plain. He said you are the light of the world. But the darkness that is in the world has become common place. People have become used to the darkness and the vile things that are everywhere. They’ve become used to an ungodly atmosphere, so much and so that if anything even resembles genuine Christianity, we become like an object of ridicule and scorn. If you really want to live your life the way God wants you to live it, and I’m not talking about some kind of rigid thing where you can’t have any joy and folks don’t even like being around you because every word that comes out of your mouth is ‘thus saith the Lord.’ Can you say hello first? Can you say how are you first? Can you ask me how my day went before you tell me that I’m going to hell? Remember Jesus meeting the woman at the well? He didn’t just go in hard on her about her lifestyle. He said, hey let’s have some water. Let’s talk. I’m interested in who you are. Now let’s deal with some spiritual things—go call your husband. She told Jesus she wasn’t married. He said, ‘That’s right and a matter of fact, you’ve been married five times and now you’re with your fiancé and y’all been engaged for 17 years.’ But after that He began to cause her to realize that this was not a judgment of her life. This was an offer of water and she had a water pot that was her testimony. The fact that she had this water pot in the middle of the day was a testimony that she was carrying a burden to keep her away from other people who may have been critical of who she really was. Women would not gather in the middle of the day, they would do it earlier in the morning so that they could do their household duties and chores so the fact that she was coming in later in the day could have been a get away from those prying eyes that always were criticizing her for her faults. We don’t know why she had five failed relationships—could have been her choices, could have been something completely outside of her control. Too often we view people where they are. We come to conclusions based on where they are and not how they got there. So, we drive by the person on the side of the Pastor Lucious W. Smith


St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church 1720 N. Walnut Avenue, La Puente, CA 91744 (626) 918-3225 • F: (626) 918-3265 Pastor Tony Dockery

In La Puente

Sunday School: 9:30 AM Early Worship: 8:00 AM Morning Worship: 11:00 AM Spanish Service: 9:30AM Bible Study: Every Wednesday 7:00 PM

In Bethlehem Church 1550 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103 (626) 794-5211 • F: (626) 794-6592 Pastor Christopher A. Bourne


Sunday School: 9:00am Sunday Worship: 10:00am Tuesday Bible Study: 7:00pm Mid-day Worship Thursday: Noon

In North Hollywood California Worship Center 13000 Hart Street, North Hollywood, CA 91103 (818) 716-1173 • F: (626) 794-6592 Pastor Warren S. Campbell II First Lady Erica Campbell Prayer Service: 10:00am Sunday Worship: 11:00am (or live online) Email:

road and look down on the fact that they are so dirty. They don’t have access to showers like you do. Maybe they lost their jobs because the company folded and they pulled the rug out from under them. Maybe they were abused as a child. Before you judge people for where they are, find out who they are first. God is trying to get us out of bondage. If you know anything about the history of Israel, you would know for 400 years they were in bondage to the Egyptians. Sometimes we focus on the bondage but we forget the blessings. Sometimes you can stay too long in a place of blessing that it becomes a place of bondage. It feels good in the beginning and it starts off well, you bought that car with every intention of it taking you to church but now you’re struggling under the car note. But you’d rather struggle under the car note than send the car away because people look at you differently when you roll up and you can’t go back to the bucket anymore. So now you’re stuck in something that should have been a blessing but now it becomes bondage. You prayed for that job and it started off well. You got paid but now you’re never home and family never sees you. So, what was a blessing for your family now becomes bondage. Sometimes the place we were once blessed, the place where your spiritual river was running so deep has now become a place of bondage because you are married to God’s last blessing that you can’t realize God has something deeper, richer and fresher for you. So, the place God blessing that God moved in your yesterday, becomes the bondage that keeps you from moving into your tomorrow. Bondage can become a pattern, bondage can become a habit that we grow accustomed to, we know there is something better but you’ve never experienced something better so sometimes it is easier to stay in a comfortable place of bondage than to risk moving out into a place you’ve never seen. There’s ultimately a better place for us but the question is whether we are willing to go through and willing to do what it takes to break the bondage of our yesterday so that we can reach the destiny of our tomorrow. Sometimes we can get stuck in the prison of our past, the past should be a place to celebrate what it was that happened that allowed you to be where you are. Israel was stuck in a place that their past blessing became a present bondage. So when God said it’s time to leave, they were so ready to go because God had promised them a land filled with milk and honey. There is a bigger place for your life and God is going to build on it. The glory of the present house is greater than the glory of the past house. God wants to do something greater, He wants to give you more than you’ve ever had. Some of you are in desert phase in your life and you wonder why you are going through such a dry season. It could very well be that God is trying to test you in your dry season to see if you are going to be worthy of the blessing He has in store. Have you grown comfortable in a place of just enough and God wants to move you in a place of more than enough?

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CBC continued from page 6

ground today—that he is really trying to lead the FBI in a very transparent, fair way. "We don't want anyone to view Black Lives Matter or other organizations that protest as an extremist group or a domestic terrorist group because we think that's very dangerous." Richmond says for the FBI to believe that if one identifies as black and protests police misconduct, that he or she is considered a threat to law enforcement, which is reminiscent to the days of Cointelpro, when the FBI covertly—and at times illegally—profiled movements like the Black Panthers and civil rights, and even proponents of black power. Congresswoman Barbara Jackson Lee has dubbed the document leaked in August as “Cointelpro 2”. The New York Times has reported that the FBI has about 1,000 domestic terrorism cases open involving white supremacists, black separatists, militias, sovereign citizens, environmentalists, abortion and animal liberation activists and Puerto Rican nationalists. Much of the 90-minute meeting revolved around clarification and the methodology used to come up with the category. “He essentially said they used open source documents which means news reports and who knows what news reports they’re talking about,” Bass reports. “This is not a policy that is new. It is a name change. What they called it before was black separatist extremists and they’ve changed it to black identity extremists. When we raised Black Lives Matter and our concern that a new generation of black activists was being targeted for surveillance and harassment, he said repeatedly that there was no investigation of Black Lives Matter. “One of the problems with this document”, she continues, “is that it has been widely distributed to law enforcement agencies around the country. Many of us referenced either our own experiences or experiences we’re aware of during the Cointelpro years when if you send a document like this out to local law enforcement in many of our opinions you can declare open season on black activists, because then local law enforcement agencies can use the document as justification for doing whatever they want to do. The irony is that recent black lives matter protests have been fifty percent white.” In the meeting, Wray—who was asked to have the report retracted—said that the Black Lives Matter movement was not under surveillance. Members of the CBC believe otherwise. Said Bass, “We are completely aware that there are activists in our communities that are experiencing surveillance…are experiencing harassment.” Moving forward the Caucus has said it will give Wray time to “deal with the document.” In the meantime, they are requesting that protesters and activists who have experienced harassment and or surveillance share their stories with the CBC.

Through the Storm Wrecked And Retching: Obscure Illness Linked To Pot Use


or 17 years, Chalfonte LeNee Queen suffered periodic episodes of violent retching and abdominal pain that would knock her off her feet for days, sometimes leaving her writhing on the floor in pain. “I’ve screamed out for death,” said Queen, 48, who lives in San Diego. “I’ve cried out for my mom who’s been dead for 20 years, mentally not realizing she can’t come to me.” Queen lost a modeling job after being mistaken for an alcoholic. She racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and her nausea interrupted her sex life. Toward the end of her illness, Queen, who stands 5-foot-9, weighed in at a frail 109 pounds. Throughout the nearly two decades of pain, vomiting and mental fog, she visited the hospital about three times a year, but doctors never got to the bottom of what was ailing her. By 2016, she thought she was dying, that she “must have some sort of cancer or something they can’t detect,” Queen said. But she didn’t have cancer. She had an obscure syndrome called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition only recently acknowledged by the medical community. It affects a small population — namely, a subset of marijuana users who smoke multiple times a day for months, years or even decades. There’s no hard data on the prevalence of the illness. But in California and Colorado, which have loosened marijuana laws in recent years, emergency physicians say they’re seeing it more often. One study in Colorado suggests there may be a link. Dr. Aimee Moulin, an emergency room physician at UC-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, said she has seen a rise in the number of cases since California voters legalized recreational marijuana last November. She expects to see another increase after commercial sales are permitted starting in January. Doctors say it’s difficult to treat the condition. There is no cure other than to quit using marijuana, and many patients are skeptical that cannabis is making them sick, so they keep using it and their vomiting episodes continue. Doctors can do little to relieve the symptoms, since traditional anti-nausea medications often don’t work and there are no pills to prevent the onset of an episode. Patients may need intravenous hydration and hospital stays until the symptoms subside. “That’s really frustrating as an emergency physician,” said Moulin. “I really like to make people feel better.”

A lot of times, people just don’t believe you. Even after being told that quit-

ting may help, some patients will

visit the hospital multiple times

before they stop smoking marijua-

na. I can’t really tell you why. I

mean, why do people ride motorcycles without helmets on?” Diagnosing the syndrome can also be frustrating — and expensive. There is no blood test to link the stomach ailment with marijuana use, so physicians often order pricey CT scans and lab tests to rule out other medical problems. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome was first documented in Australia in 2004. Physicians have historically misdiagnosed it as the more generic cyclic vomiting syndrome, which has no identifiable cause or, as in Queen’s case, acute intermittent porphyria (AIP). “Five years ago, this wasn’t something that [doctors] had on their radar,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency physician at the University of Colorado in Aurora, who coauthored the Colorado study showing a possible tie between the liberalization of marijuana and a surge of the vomiting illness. “We’re at least making the diagnosis more now.” One surefire sign of the illness is when patients find relief in hot showers and baths. Queen said she would vomit repeatedly unless she was in a hot shower — so she’d stay in there for hours. Toxicologists say the heat may distract the brain from pain receptors in the abdomen but, like the syndrome itself, that phenomenon is not well understood. The exact cause of

the condition is still a mystery. Toxicologists say the chemical compounds in marijuana may throw off the normal function of the body’s cannabinoid receptors, which help regulate the nervous system. Some people may be genetically predisposed to the syndrome, or marijuana’s potency or chemical makeup may have changed over time, said Dr. Craig Smollin, medical director of the San Francisco division of the California Poison Control System, who also works as an emergency physician at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The vomiting link to cannabis is counterintuitive to many, because of its widely known reputation as an anti-nausea remedy for cancer patients. “A lot of times, people just don’t believe you,” said Dr. John Coburn, an emergency physician at Kaiser Permanente in south Sacramento. Even after being told that quitting may help, some patients will visit the hospital multiple times before they stop smoking marijuana, Coburn said. “I can’t really tell you why. I mean, why do people ride motorcycles without helmets on?” Cameron Nicole Beard, 19, of East Moline, Ill., said she struggled to believe her doctors about the link between pot and severe vomiting. “Who wants to be told you can’t smoke marijuana, when you think marijuana can help?” said Beard, while recovering from a marijuana-related vomiting episode at a University of Iowa hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, last month. She said she had lost 20 pounds in 10 days. Although there’s still no magic cure for a patient’s marijuana-related hyperemesis, Moulin and other doctors say they’re getting better at treating the symptoms, using old anti-psychotic medications and cream for muscle aches. Dr. Heard said the cases in Colorado seem to have leveled off. But without hard data, and because the overall numbers are small, it’s hard to say for sure. Heard said he doesn’t believe cases of the pot syndrome increased after recreational use was legalized in 2012, because chronic users probably already had medical marijuana cards. Chalfonte LeNee Queen is still struggling to completely quit marijuana, but her symptoms are down to a dull stomachache. She now smokes a couple of times a day, compared with her near-constant use in the past. She said it’s the only thing that works for her depression and anxiety. Queen is back to a healthy weight and hasn’t been to the hospital in a year. She said she wouldn’t want to discourage anybody from smoking weed; she just wants people to know heavy use can bring them some serious misery. “Now, if I get sick, as sad as I’ll be and as upset and disappointed with myself as I would be, at least it’s a freaking choice,” she said.

Church Seeking Custodial Staff True Love Missionary Baptist Church 100 East 119th Street Los Angeles, CA 90061 Please mail your resume or email to: P.O. BOX 59629 Los Angeles, CA 90061 Contact Sister Janet Covington (323) 757-7182

For location and information, please call Josie Martin: 562-416-5035 Website: Email:

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L.A. Focus/December 2017



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L.A. Focus/December 2017

he’s known for playing the mother of iconic characters including Tina Turner (Angela Bassett) in “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, Whitney Houston’s character in “The Preacher’s Wife”, Tupac Shakur’s character in “Poetic Justice” and in 2014, she was cast as Ruby Johnson, the mom of Anthony Anderson in ABC’s Emmy-nominated hit series, “Blackish”. All of which has come to dub her as “The Mother of Black Hollywood”. It is also the title of her recently released memoir, chronicling Lewis’ offscreen struggles right along with her onscreen successes in a career that has spanned four decades and upwards of 300 appearances on film, TV and the stage. The book, whose rich detail can be attributed to her keeping detailed journals, reveal the highs and lows of her storied career, including her battles with substance abuse, sex addiction and bipolar disorder. “I wanted to hit the things that really tried to knock me off my feet and then the courage [I had] to go and get help—to give the road I took one step at a time. Writing the book was the greatest challenge of my life.” She is both amazed and grateful for the response to it. “The lines were around the corner in New York, Philly and D.C. I was blown away and so grateful and appreciative of how people wanted to thank me for entertaining them,” Lewis said. The 60-year old actress who once sang backup to Bette Midler and who originated the “Dreamgirls” role Jennifer Holliday played on Broadway, credits her success to raw talent. “I was always a diva. I was born with it. I always knew that I was going to be an entertainer. I sang my first solo in church at the age of five and the reaction of the congregation was like a Tsunami of love.” She made her mark in Hollywood in films like “The Preacher’s Wife”, “Medea’s Family Reunion”, “Meet The Browns”, “The Cookout” and “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” and on TV with recurring roles in “Girlfriends”, “Boston Legal”, “A Different World” and her six season co-starring stint in Lifetime TV's hit drama series "Strong Medicine." Says Lewis, “I represent the middle-aged African American woman. And that is not to be taken lightly. We are a colorful people, a powerful people and a proud people. And that’s no easy task to represent. So I’ve tried to honor their sassiness, their intelligence, their strength, you know it’s that aunt, that mother, that sister, that brings the whole family together and says look, we’re going to win this season.” She was handpicked for the role of Ruby Johnson on “Blackish”. “They said, there’s just one person we’re going to call and it’s Jenifer Lewis. I was nervous that first day because the rest of the cast had already done several episodes and I had to go out there and find their rhythm and their levels, but I went in there and they asked me


Jenifer Lewis

to be a regular and the rest is history. Lewis has never been one to let Hollywood decide when she will work, having in the mid-80s launching a series of one women plays that have reflected and defined her growth in the industry. “Whatever goes on in life, I just get back on stage because that’s where I breathe,” Lewis explains. “I used my one-woman shows to say “hey, look what I did and if you want to do that and not be so serious about life, you can do it too. “Kids think it’s somehow easy—especially now with the internet. That it doesn’t require talent any more, but,” States Lewis, “I didn’t take the elevator, I took the stairs and studied, stayed in continuum education and I kept moving. The biggest message is having a passion that real can sustain you. That’s why I couldn’t quit.” As far back as the Kinloch, Missouri native can remember, she has known she was born to entertain people. “I sang my first solo when I was 5 years old in church and everybody went crazy and I knew then at that moment what I would do.” The effervescent, outgoing personality she displays every week as part of one of TV’s most beloved comedies, Blackish, was just as evident in her tenure as class president from seventh grade through 12th grade, on her high school cheerleading squad where she was captain, and in college, where she was cast in every play and musical the school presented. She signed on to her first Broadway show less than two weeks after she arrived in New York City and went on to do four other Broadway shows, including Rock N Roll and Hairspray. She was the original Effie in the workshop version of Dreamgirls before it went to Broadway. After Broadway I went out in the road with Bette Midler, returning to New York to sing in nightclubs and launch the first of her one woman shows.) For much of her success she suffered with untreated bipolar disorder, a condition she says may have contributed to some of the rejection she received in the casting process. “That mania is too much for people. A lot of times, I didn’t study the way I should have because I was such a natural,” Lewis recalls. “Thought I could just go in there and take over that room, but no that step of discipline was very necessary and my brain was just too all over the place.” The actress suffered a nervous breakdown in the 90s with the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, which left several of her friends dead. She was also treated for sex

addiction and substance abuse. In the end her saving grace was that the standing ovations she received meant more to her than her obstacles she would endure to get to them. “I went on to get help and it was only after I got help that my career started to blossom because I was stable enough and level-headed enough to pursue it. We are as sick as our secrets,” she says now of that time in her life and the condition that she speaks so freely about. “Bipolar is a disease like high blood pressure or lupus. You go way up and you go way down, there’s no middle. You literally wear yourself out and I went on Oprah and told 60 million people I was bipolar. It’s about telling the truth and feeling you feelings because if you do that, then you don’t have to go and act it out somewhere.” In support of the book—available from Harper Collins—Lewis is doing a promotional tour around the country, with several upcoming appearances in Los Angeles, including Diva’s Simply Singing on December 9th at the Taglyan Cultural Center and a book signing at the Nate Holden Theater on December 16. She is already working on a second book. In the meantime, she is enjoying life. Says Lewis, “At 60, most of my priorities have changed. I’ve got about 30 more summers left, so if it’s not about love, positivity and celebrating life, I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I love life. I love what I do. I have a wonderful job on Blackish. I have a wonderful family, wonderful friends and a very illustrious career. I’m an activist for many causes—Big Brothers, Big Sisters, HIV, Breast Cancer. Who could ask for anything more.”

L.A. Focus On The Word December 2017 Issue  
L.A. Focus On The Word December 2017 Issue