L.A. Focus Newspaper March 2023

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VOLUME XXVIII • ISSUE 2 •March 2023 >> WWW.LAFOCUSNEWSPAPER.COM L.A. FOCUS @LAFOCUSNEWS << Upfront Brian Flores to Get HIs Day in Court Against NFL Hlollywood Buzz Zendaya Negotiales Raise to $1 Million Per Episode SAVING GRACE Viola Davis >> SEE PAGE 6 Ridley-Thomas Trial Gets Underway March 7, Ecumunical Community Holds Solidarity Service Up Front SEE PAGE 12

Right: Pastor Fred Price, Dr. Betty Price and First Lady Angel Price welcome Apostle BEverly “Bam” Crawford back to Crenshaw Christian Center during the church’s yearlong 50th Anniversary; (Middle): Areva Martin poses with Beverly White and KCBS/KCAL news anchor Pat Harvey, both honorees at KBLA’s Black History Luncheon last month; (left): Right: Erica enjoys a magical moment with Minnie Mouse and her kids, Zaya and Warryn, before taking the stage at Disneyland’s “Celebrate Gospel”

4 From The Editor

The Essence of “Big”


Black, Unhoused and Mentally Challenged



Ridley-Thomas Trial to Get Underway March 7, Ecumenical Community Holds Solidarity Service; Brian Flores to Get His Day in Court Against NFL; CalHFA Announces More Mortgage Relief; Legal Action Filed Against Upland School District on Behalf of Sixth Graders Racially Bullied During Black History Month

8 People

Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove Holds Community Swearing-In; Malcolm X Heirs to File $100 Million Lawsuit Against FBI, CIA & NYPD

Money Matters




Cover Story

A Groundswell Rises to Fight Against Toxic Water (As California’s Water Crisis Leaves Communities of Color at Risk)

Hollywood Buzz

Zendaya Joins the Million Dollar Per Episode Club; Chris Rock to Open Up About “The Slap”; DeVon Franklin To Star in New Series


Tessa Thompson

Red Carpet Style

Screen Actors Guild

Eye On Gospel

Kierra Sheard’s Latest Offering; Pastor Mike is Back on Top; Melvin Crispell’s Sophomore Gifting


Pastor Profile

Johnteris Tate

19 From The Pulpit

Faithful Central Bible Church; Bishop Ulmer’s Last Message as Senior Pastor


Toby Garrett

Saving Grace

22 In Good Taste

Viola Davis

Church News

Biz News Briefs On the Money

Louis Vuitton Names Pharrell Williams; Mariah Carey’s Liqueur Goes International

27 Years Post Death, Basquiat Dominates the Art World

16 17

Star-Studded City Wide Tribute Concert Honors Bishop Kenneth Ulmer; Bill Winston’s Greatness Unlocked Tour; Western Baptist State Convention to Host Mid-Winter Board Meeting

First Lady Files

Loretta Jones

Mayor Karen Bass has made her choices for U.S. Senate and it is Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland).

Lee announced a run for the seat currently held by Senator Dianne Feinstein last month.

Xavier L. Thompson

Emeritus Melvin Wade

K.W. Tulloss

Assoc. Bishop Robert T. Douglas Sr.

October 2022 advisory board #LAFOCUS @L.A.Focus @Lafocusnews Address all correspondence to: L.A. Focus, 333 W. Florence Ave., Suite C333 Inglewood, CA 90301 • (310) 677-6011 Subscription rates $25.00 per year. www.lafocusnewspaper.com Publisher/Editor-In-Chief Staff Writers Photographer Advertising Lisa Collins Gerald Bell,,Keith Delawder, Chez’Ney Hadley Ian Foxx Kisha Smith staff Napoleon Brandford Apostle
Bob Blake Siebert, Brandford,
& Co. Bible Enrichment Fellowship Int’l Morgan Stanley Bob Blake & Associates West Angeles C.O.G.I.C. Bishop Charles Blake City of Refuge Bishop Noel Jones Greater Zion Church Family Pastor
Southern Saint Paul Church Rev.
Faithful Central Bible Church
Church Pastor
Baptist Minister’s Conference Pastor
Cover Design: UpScale Media Group L.A. Focus/ March2023 3 contents L.A. Focus Publications
Beverly Crawford
Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer
Moriah Baptist
honorary advisors
Looking for Relief From Sky High Utility Bills?
Headlines From Africa

umerous studies have confirmed that homelessness and behavioral and mental health problems affect African Americans at disproportionate rates in California and around the United States.

On a very personal level, homelessness affects an individual’s mental health. Looking at the data: approximately 30% of those chronically unhoused have a mental health condition, about 50% have a co-occurring substance use problem and 42% have a disabling condition such as a developmental disability, HIV/AIDS or injuries from combat such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

In California, 43% of the Black Californians interviewed reported that someone close to them has experienced homelessness — a rate much higher than any other racial group in the survey, according to a survey conducted by the California Health Care Foundation,

Black women in particular — are at a higher risk.

“A variety of circumstances put Black women at high risk for mental/emotional stress - economic insecurity, responsibilities of caregiving, neighborhood violence, lack of social support and physical illness or disability,” states the California Black Women’s Health Project website.

“As a result, many are plagued by tension, anxiety, worry and fear. Because of the powerful and complex links between the mind, emotions and body, chronic states of stress and anxiety can have dangerous and sometime fatal, health consequences. In addition, the daily struggles of coping with racism and sexism further exacerbate mental and emotional stress.”

When these intersecting issues go unaddressed, they can compound and adversely affect individuals.

Black people make up 13.6% of the population in the United States and account for approximately 21% of those living in poverty. Blacks in California comprise 6.5% of the population but are more than 40% of the homeless/unhoused population! In fact, in most shelters, food banks, drop-in centers for the unhoused, the majority of those

served are from Black and Brown communities as Blacks outnumber Whites 12 to 1 among the homeless.

California has more unhoused than any other state. Seventy percent of California’s homeless are living on the streets and in tents, etc. while in New York, data reflects that only 5% of their homeless are living on the streets.

California has instituted several policies and passed a series of laws to address the mental health and homeless crises. Last year, during his annual budget proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom connected the challenge of solving homelessness in the state with inadequate approaches the state has taken so far to address mental health.

Among different approaches taken to address the state’s mental health challenges and, consequently, the homelessness crisis is the passage of the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Act (CARE) Act in California last year. This law, which Newsom signed into law, establishes CARE Court, an alternative to the Criminal Justice System for people who are mentally ill.

But more needs to be done if we are to address the monumental challenges of our mental health and homelessness crises, particularly as it affects minorities. The resources and programs the state has made available

From the Editor

“The Essence of Big”

We celebrate women’s history this month as I write this column, I am making final preparations to travel to Atlanta to celebrate with one of my mentors, civil rights legend Xernona Clayton, in the unveiling of a statue of her likeness in downtown Atlanta.

I fortunate enough to have developed a bond with this remarkable woman as a little girl while she and my Dad were the best of friends. Clayton worked alongside my Dad to raise millions to help fund the civil rights movement in the sixties, organizing glitzy fundraisers at the homes of the likes of Charlton Heston and Gregory Peck. We called her “Big”, even though nothing about her physical stature was big. As I remember the nickname was given to her because she came into this world a few minutes earlier than her twin sister, who was nicknamed “Little”, which would have been the more appropriate physical description of them both.

But as life would have it, “Big” was the perfect description for Xernona Clayton. She thought big. She accomplished big things and when she walked into a room, her presence loomed large. As a little girl, there was nothing I wanted more than to be like her or in a room with her. And she was absolutely fearless–always living out her greater self with a laser beam focus on her goals.

My brothers and I were heartbroken when my father announced that Big was moving to Atlanta after he had recommended her to Dr. King as the perfect person to accompany his wife Coretta Scott King on a concert tour.

It came as little surprise that she became as indispensable to Dr. King and his family, as she had been to my Dad and us. It was “Big” who drove Dr. King to the airport for that fateful trip to Memphis and

it was “Big” who was entrusted to prepare his body in the casket.

My favorite “Big” story was that of her meeting with KKK Grand Dragon Calvin Craig as they were both serving on a Model Cities program. On the night of their first meeting, Clayton noticed that he did not fully shake her hand. In a subsequent conversation about a dinner being held at her house, he was astounded that Whites were attending, telling her, “I could never eat at your house”. Her reply: “Well, Mr. Craig, I haven’t invited you to my home. But before this project is over, I’ll not only have you eating at my house, I’ll have you eating out of my hand.”

She would go on to make history as the first African American from the South to host a daily prime time talk show before being hired by Ted Turner as corporate vice president for urban affairs at TBS, before establishing the Trumpet Awards in 1993.

When I think about the role women of faith play in the life of little girls, I think of Xernona Clayton who set that bar really high and how much I treasure the times I got to follow her around as a little girl.

But to be sure, Black women have made a great many contributions not just to our rich Black history, but to this nation. I take pride in knowing that the fruits of those who labored, sacrificed and died for us to have all we have today resulted in a rich harvest of talents that have powered our progression and bred a new generation of dreamers and achievers.

When people wonder why I am not so easily impressed, it is because I was privileged to have been raised in the shadow of women like Xernona Clayton and like my stepmother, Evelyn Boyd Granville, the second African American woman to receive a Ph.D in

have simply not kept up with the demand for services.

California was the first state in the country to propose housing as a human right under Assembly Constitutional Amendment 10 (ACA-10) (Bonta 2020). This amendment would ensure shelter for the unhoused and recognize housing as a human right. However, after more than 70 years, housing still appears to be treated as a commodity rather than a human right. From prevention and early intervention to strategically providing housing and chronic care -- we need to do more in the Golden State.

Medical professionals need to be provided cultural sensitivity training and more needs to be done to destigmatize mental health care in the Black community. Social support systems must be strengthened, and more resources need to be committed to outreach and research so that both care and information can be targeted to serve the needs of Black Californians.

Committing to funding, decreasing hurdles in zoning, working collaboratively with public and private sectors, and creating space for ingenuity would be steps towards solving these crises. Recognizing that Black and Brown communities, children, families and seniors are unhoused as well as those that carry the weight of mental illness, leads us to act and consider prioritizing vulnerable populations of unhoused.

We must utilize all our available resources so that every Californian will be afforded the right to have housing and a ‘home’ and adequate mental health care, allowing for security, safety, and comfort.

Lenore A. Tate, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Sacramento who has previously worked as Principal Consultant to the California Assembly and Senate Health Committees as well as the Senate Office of Research. She specializes in neuropsychology, geriatrics and behavioral health. California Black Media’s coverage of mental health in Black communities is made possible with the support of the California Health Care Foundation.

mathematics in the nation (the first from Yale University). She went on to work on orbit computations for NASA’s space program, ultimately becoming one of their “hidden fig ures.”

This year, as part of Xernona’s signature Atlanta event, “High Heels in High Places”, she is shining a light on me as one of the honorees and I couldn’t be more pleased that she felt me worthy of the honor.

Yet, for all the talk about women, I want to close my column this month with the words of civil rights attorney Ben Crump who was honored with the NAACP’s Social Justice Impact Award last month.

To a standing and cheering ovation, Crump concluded his acceptance speech with these words: “We are prepared to fight for Black history in and outside of the courtrooms just as hard as we will continue to fight for the George Floyds of the world, for the Breonna Taylors of the world, for the Ahmaud Arberys of the world, for the Trayvon Martins of the world and now for the Tyre Nichols of the world, because we have to stand up for our children’s future. Because if we don’t fight for our children’s future, we can’t expect anybody else to fight for our children’s future.

“We have to be ready to fight for our children’s future until hell freezes over and then we have to be ready to fight on the ice.”

Keep the faith.

4 L.A. Focus/ March 2023 Commentary
“Black, Unhoused and Mentally Challenged: The Case for Housing and Health Care”


Ridley-Thomas Trial to Get Underway March 7, Ecumenical Community Holds Solidarity Service

As jury selection for the trial of suspended City Councilmember

Mark Ridley-Thomas is scheduled to get underway on March 7 at 8:30am in downtown Los Angeles, the South Los Angeles Clergy for Public Accountability (SLACPA), a network of pastors and ministers in South Los Angeles churches representing over 50,000 members, organized “An Ecumenical and Interfaith Service In Solidarity supporting Mark Ridley-Thomas.”

According to organizers, the event will call on the power of each participating faith traditions’ demand for truth and justice to prevail at Councilman RidleyThomas’ trial.

Ridley-Thomas was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2021 for alleged criminal wrongdoing during his service on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2017.

In September, Marilyn Flynn, former dean of the University of Southern California’s school of social work, pled guilty to a federal charge that she bribed RidleyThomas by funneling $100,000 he provided from his campaign account through USC to a nonprofit operated by his son to obtain a lucrative county contract.

Lawyers for Ridley-Thomas countered that the plea deal made a number of erroneous assumptions — “specifically where she alleges an understanding as to what Mr. Ridley-Thomas understood or thought. Mr. Ridley-Thomas is innocent of the charges levied against him. We look forward to his day in court to clear his good name.”

In December, the L.A. City Council voted to reinstate both his salary and benefits and pay Ridley-Thomas a total of $364,573 finding that the city controller did not have the authority to suspend his pay.

“Mark’s personal faith is a cornerstone of his servant leadership and South Los Angeles clergy have directly witnessed his tireless efforts to empower our beloved community,” stated Rev. Dr. Norman S. Johnson, convener of SLACPA. “He doesn’t just show up to fellowship with us around election day. From health care delivery to homelessness, constitutional policing, public transit, economic development, local hiring and the fight for a livable wage – Mark has always been about addressing the most pressing needs of his constituents.”

“We want this expression of solidarity to fortify Mark and his family and reinforce their resolve as he faces one of the most significant challenges to his 30-plus year public service life,” added Pastor Mary Minor, of Brookins-Kirkland AME .

“Mark Ridley-Thomas is one of the finest illustrations of what an elected official in a democratic society should be,” stated Dr. James Lawson, the iconic civil rights leader and Pastor Emeritus of Holman United Methodist Church without equivocation. “His trial is a trial for all of us who want racial justice and freedom.”

For Ken Walden, senior pastor of Holman UMC and service host, the impact of the case was bigger than Ridley-Thomas’ effort to exonerate himself.

“The racism articulated by then City

Brian Flores to Get His Day in Court Against NFL

AUnited States Judge in New York has ruled that the NFL–along with three of its teams–will have to answer in open court to the charges of racist hiring practices brought by Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores.

While certain aspects of the case, including Flores’ retaliation claim against the Dolphins, will be handled through private arbitration, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni ruled that the NFL, the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Houston Texans will have to address Flores’ claims of systematic discrimination against Black coaches in the league.

"We are pleased that Coach Flores’ class claims of systematic discrimination against the NFL and several teams will proceed in court and ultimately before a jury of his peers," Flores' attorney, Douglas Wigdor, said in a statement.

"We are disappointed the court compelled arbitration of any claims before Mr. Goodell as he is obviously biased and unqualified to rule on these matters. We expect him to delegate those matters to a truly neutral arbitrator as a matter of fundamental fairness."

Flores initially filed his lawsuit alleging that the NFL was “rife with racism” in February of 2022 after being fired by the Dolphins, and while being interviewed by several NFL teams, he was unable to secure another head coaching job. The lawsuit alleged that the teams who interviewed him did so in order to satisfy the NFL’s “Rooney Rule”, requiring them to interview at least one minority candidate for head-coaching jobs.

In her written decision, Judge Caproni noted that it was difficult to understand how there was only one Black head coach at the time Flores filed his lawsuit in a league of 32 teams with Black players making up about 70% of the rosters.

L.A. County Launches Program to Protect Homeowners from Title Fraud

Attorney and L.A. native, Alois Phillips was about to sell her home and relocate to a new neighborhood, but her dream abruptly turned into a nightmare after falling victim to real estate title fraud. What has become a growing criminal activity across the U.S., deed fraud occurs when someone obtains the title to your property by changing the ownership from your name to theirs.

Phillips became a captive in her own house fearful that if she left the fraudster could take possession of her home, which was for a time was in his name.

Council President Nury Martinez and the others we heard in that secret recording was an impetus to remove him from office, weaken Black political power, deny voting rights, due process and the presumption of innocence, nullify election results. It speaks to the pernicious effect of racially motivated animosity and a level of injustice that could easily be visited upon any Black leader,” said Walden. “That’s another reason we stand in solidarity with and in support of Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.”

“Each faith tradition represented places a premium on the values of truth and justice. We will pray that these values prevail, and that Ridley-Thomas receives a fair trial by a jury of his peers that has not been influenced by the pernicious public attempts of his political adversaries to punish him before he has had his day in court,” said retired Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, civil rights and antiracist leader.

CalHFA Announces More Mortgage Relief for California Families


Earlier this month, the California Housing Financing Agency (CalHFA) and the Sacramento branch of NeighborWorks held a press conference at the State Capitol to announce the expansion of California's mortgage relief program.

“Over the past year, the California Mortgage Relief program has been helping Californians that are most vulnerable to overcome the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tiena Johnson Hall, Executive Director of the California Housing Finance Agency.

One of the major new changes to eligibility, CalHFA officials say, applies to those who own residences with up to four units. Those homeowners can now apply for assistance. Relief through the program has also extended to those with partial- claim second mortgages or loan deferrals from the beginning of 2020.

Additionally, for homeowners who have missed at least two mortgage payments or one property payment before March 1st of this year, the delinquency date for payments has been reset.

CalHFA continued to page 20

According to the LA County Consumer and Business Affairs (LACCBA), in 2018 Californians lost nearly $125 million to fraud alone and those stats continue to climb.

To that end the County’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs operates the Enhanced Homeowner Notification Program. In the program, theLos Angeles County Registrar-Recroder’s Office sends you copies of documents recorded against your home. This gives you a chance to review the real estate documents to be sure they are legitimate. It also gives you your best chance to save your home from a foreclosure.

Recently, L.A. County expanded the program to allow even faster notifications through email. Residents must, however, sign up to receive e-Notification alerts. For more information, visit assessor.lacounty.gov/news-information/enotification.

Vice President Kamala Harris Announces Initiative Reducing Costs for New Homebuyers

A new initiative that will reduce primary mortgage insurance (PMI) for FHA loans by 40 percent to allow more individuals to qualify and become homeowners. The program –set to kick off on March 20 –is projected to benefit 850,000 home buyers.

While introducing the initiative during an appearance at Bowie State University, Harris shared the excitement she and her sister felt when their mother told them they were buying their first home after years of renting.

“Homeownership is an essential part of the American Dream,” said Harris. “A home is more than a house. It is community. A home represents financial security and the opportunity to build wealth and equity that can help put your child through college and create intergenerational wealth within your family. That’s what all of this represents.”

The mortgage insurance premium is the monthly fee that homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages pay to insure their mortgages, which they pay on top of their monthly principal and interest payments. The action will save homebuyers and homeowners with new FHAinsured mortgages an average of $800 per year.

News Briefs
6 L.A. Focus/ March 2023


Legal Action Filed Against Upland School District on Behalf of Sixth Graders Racially Bullied During Black History Month

You’re my favorite monkey,” read one note from a classmate to a Black sixth grader at the Pepper Tree Elementary School during Black History Month. Another note read, “To my favorite cotton picker,” and with it was a drawing depicting a slave. Another student was given a “golden N-word pass”.

Being an Ethiopian, the child didn’t know what the n-word meant exactly. He just thought that if he signed it, he would stop being bullied.

“These cards were passed out to the Black kids at my grandchildren's school…Pepper Tree Elementary, for Black History Month,” Earlie Douglas posted on Facebook on Feb. 17. “My granddaughter was told that they were making her one for her that says, ‘You are my favorite slave’ and they were drawing a picture of a slave hanging from a tree.”

Late last month, attorneys with The Cochran Firm announced the filing of four Claim for Damages against the Upland School District representing four families whose Black kids were subject to harassment and bullying at Pepper Tree Elementary School.

In doing so, the parents have put the district on notice that they intend to follow through with a lawsuit given the Upland School District’s failure to act.

It was in early February that Marlene Reynozo, mother of a student who received some of the notes took her concerns to the district, and when they did nothing, the media was alerted, prompting tensions that boiled over at a district board meeting.

Reynoso, who spoke during the meeting, said “It wasn’t until I had to get upset and because she continued to be harassed, that I had to pull her from school and the other child still gets to go to school every day.”

Another parent present at the board meeting said that a girl in his class also referred to his son as a monkey.

“I’m actually heartbroken,” Upland

Unified School District superintendent Lynn Carmen Day said, noting that all students deserved “respect, love, safety, and a sense of belonging at school.”

In a released video, district board president Truman Garnett said, “Recent racially insensitive and unacceptable incidents have taken place in our schools.

We deeply regret the hurt that this behavior has caused our students and families in our community. As a leader and representative of the Upland Unified School District, I want to make it perfectly clear that we have a strict zero tolerance policy on any type of hate speech, harassment, discriminatory practices, behaviors, racial slurs and any reports of

these actions will be investigated thoroughly and immediately.”

Many of those present at the board meeting reported that it was not the first time Black students had been racially bullied and were particularly upset that parents weren’t notified of the February 2 incident until two weeks later.

The Pepper Tree Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association wanted to make it clear where they stood on the matter with President Robin Allen posting, “Racist incidents and bullying in all forms particularly racial bullying is outrageous, egregious and will not be tolerated. Our children cannot grow up in this environment.”

Parents called for the students cited in the incidents to be expelled, however whatever action was taken has not been made public, though district representatives said that progressive discipline was enacted and there was a continuing investigation into the incident to determine if there will be any further district response. They added that they would do everything in their power to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Those same officials will have 45 days to respond to the Claim for Damages with their acceptance of liability or denial of the claim which would trigger the filing of legal action.


n February 26, Congresswoman

Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove Holds Community Swearing-In Malcolm X Heirs to File $100 Million Lawsuit

Kamlager-Dove (CA-37) held her community swearing-in ceremony at the Beehive in South Los Angeles. Community members, local elected officials, friends, and loved ones gathered together to watch Kamlager-Dove take her oath of office and give her inaugural address.

Guests were welcomed by the Mistress of Ceremonies, Wendy Raquel-Robinson and Pastor Geremy Dixon, Yvonne Wheeler of the LA Federation of Labor, Sue Dunlap of Planned Parenthood, and Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who gave special remarks on the Congresswoman’s behalf. Los Angeles Mayor and former representative of CA-37, Karen Bass, administered the oath of office.

“It was a beautiful day to celebrate my new role as Congresswoman to CA-37 with the constituents that I serve” Rep. Kamlager-Dove said. “All of us felt a sense of joy and excitement for the occasion, and it was an honor to be surrounded by so many community members and friends as I took this next step in my life. I can’t wait to deliver for the people of California’s 37th.”

After taking her oath of office, Rep. Kamlager-Dove issued her inaugural address, laying out her hopes for Congress and her mission for CA-37 as their new representative, building on Mayor Bass’s

legacy and her own legislative priorities.

The Inaugural Address highlighted the work already in motion by the newly elected Congresswoman, such as authoring the One Stop Shop Act and the Pregnant Women in Custody Act. The One Stop Shop Act would provide comprehensive resources to reduce recidivism and ease community re-entry, while the Pregnant Women in Custody Act would address health disparities that impact incarcerated women who are pregnant or in postpartum recovery.

These are just two of the many pieces of legislation that Kamlager-Dove is authoring that build on Mayor Bass's legacy and her own legislative priorities. Others include co-sponsoring legislation that addresses drilling on federal land, standing up against police violence, protecting social security, and a nationwide abortion ban.

Kamlager-Dove was motivated to author the One Stop Shop Act and the Pregnant Women in Custody Act because the criminal justice system disproportionately impacts people of color. In her own words: "As a Black woman, I know firsthand the impact that the criminal justice system can have on communities of color. Too often, our neighbors are incarcerated for minor offenses, or for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This does nothing to make our communities

Headlines From


Botswana: The leaders of Botswana and Namibia have signed an agreement that will allow their citizens to cross the two countries’ border without passports.

Burkina Faso: France and Burkina Faso have officially ended a military accord with the French military withdrawing last month.

Burundi: In a bid to convince the international community that the country is safer, the Burundi government has launched campaigns encouraging refugees who fled the country in 2015 and are now living in Tanzania to return home.

Cameroon: With Election Day set for March 12, the campaigns of candidates for ten political parties seeking senatorial seats are in full gear. The election will be held for 70 seats.

Central African Republic: Last month, CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra announced a sec ond round of elections in some areas and a new first round in areas that were controlled by rebels during the December elections. Respective elections for all areas will be held on March 14.

Congo: The rebel group M23 have captured the village of Mushaki in North Kivu province after more than two days of fighting with government forces and militias, civilians. Its capture of the strategically positioned village threatens to cut off transport into the regional capital Goma.

Ethiopia: With the sixth failed consecutive rainfall season in the Horn of Africa, close to 23 million people are thought to be highly food insecure in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

Gambia: Ghana and Gambia are ramping up efforts to build tech-based economies and have joined the Digital Cooperation Organization that aims to link Africa and Gulf countries in a common digital economy agenda.

safer, and instead destroys families and creates generations of trauma."

She continued, "I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to create a more just and equitable criminal justice system. The One Stop Shop Act and the Pregnant Women in Custody Act are two important steps in that direction, and I will continue to fight for reform until every American has equal justice under the law."

As a member of Congress, KamlagerDove will work to pass legislation that creates jobs, invests in infrastructure, and makes Los Angeles a more livable and equitable city for all residents. She is committed to fighting for policies that improve the lives of Angelenos and make our city a better place to live.

Kamlager-Dove will focus onissues around land, economics, art, and democracy. During the event, guests were invited to attend the community resource fair where they could meet district office staff and look into local services and agencies. The event concluded with the over 500 member audience reciting a community pledge.

Kamlager-Dove’s district includes some of the most diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles. She is committed to fighting for policies that benefit all Angelenos, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

Against FBI, CIA & NYPD

OOn the anniversary of his 1965 assassination, Ilyasah Shabazz–the third daughter of Malcolm X –stood alongside her sister Qubilah to announce that the family of the famed Black leader intends to sue the FBI, CIA and New York Police Department for the role they played in his death.

“For years, our family has fought for the truth to come to light concerning his murder and we’d like our father to receive the justice that he deserves,” said Shabazz, who serves as an administrator of Malcolm X’s estate.

“The truth about the circumstances leading to the death of our father is important, not only to his family, but to many followers, many admirers, many who look to him for guidance, for love,” Shabazz said.

The announcement of an $100 million lawsuit was made during a news conference held at the Manhattan location (known as the Audubon Ballroom) where the Malcolm X was shot 21 times as he began to deliver remarks on stage.

According to reports, there were three to five assailants, one of whom, Talmadge Hayer, was captured and beaten savagely while trying to leave the scene.

Hayer–who subsequently confessed to killing Malcolm X with four different men all motivated by the feud between the civil rights leader and the Nation of Islam–spent 45 years in prison before his release on parole in 2010, never identifying any of the other assailants.

Two other men– Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Khalil Islam–were convicted in the killing but were later found to be innocent of the crime and were exonerated after years in prison and awarded $26 million for the wrongful convictions.

"The connection between his death and

Malcolm X Heirs continued to page 20

A look at current news from the continent of Africa

Kenya: The European Union signed a $27 million funding for TradeMark Africa to facilitate a five-year program that will boost Kenya’s exports and support the government in creating a conducive business environment.

: The votes are in and with 8.8 million votes ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu is the president of Nigeria, however an opposition party has said that it will launch a legal challenge claiming that the vote was rigged.

Rwanda: Rwanda’s economic managers remain under intense pressure to contain a persistent rise in the cost of living that is eroding savings and incomes and reducing the purchasing power of many. Poor households are reportedly bearing the brunt of the rise in food prices as low-income households in Rwanda typically spend more than one-third of their overall budget on food.

Somalia: A new national action plan for enhancing and empowering Somali women in their country’s maritime sector has been launched in a joint effort between senior government officials and the international community, including the United Nations.

South Africa: The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force has placed South Africa and Nigeria on its “grey list” of countries that needed to do more to improve their ability to fight financial crime, exposing them to scrutiny by investors and banks worldwide.

: The Tanzanian government has banned a popular series of children’s books promoting LGBTQ rights from schools on the grounds that they violate local cultural values .

Uganda: A recent study has found that at least 1.52 million Ugandans have entered the middle class. According to the research, the rise represents a "good trend compatible with Uganda Vision 2040," with the number of middle-class Ugandans rising from 14.12 million during the period ended 2017 to 15.64 million in 2022.

8 L.A. Focus/ March 2023

Money Matters

Looking for Relief From Sky High Utility Bills?

If, like most residents in L.A. County, you opened your gas bill and nearly fainted when you read the amount due, you’re wondering if there has been some kind of mistake. And while yes, with the colder weather you may have turned the heat up during one of the colder than normal winter nights, you can’t imagine that the sky high rate is the result.

Well, it probably won’t make you feel any better, but you’re not alone. Gas bills have doubled–if not tripled–for most, due to historically high natural gas prices in the western United States. In fact, an announcement from Southern California Gas Company to its customers read, “There’s no easy way to put this: January bills are likely to be shockingly high.”

If that weren’t bad enough, Edison is seeking to increase its rates by 4.4% effective June 1, due to the impact of the high natural gas prices on its operating costs. The L.A. Department of Water and Power has not said how much their rates could be affected, but a rate hike is not expected before April.

California Governor Gavin Newsom also took action urging the federal government to investigate the recent price spike affecting the Western U.S. and highlighted the state’s action to provide relief to Californians.

In a letter to the federal agency responsible for regulating wholesale natural gas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Governor requested that the agency “immediately focus its investigatory resources on assessing whether market manipulation, anticompetitive behavior, or other anomalous activities are driving these ongoing elevated prices in the western gas markets.”

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to accelerate the California Climate Credit to help California families with high gas bills. The $90-$120 credit will be applied to residential utility customer bills starting in March for customers of PG&E, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas Company. Customers of Bear Valley, Liberty, PacifiCorp, and South-

Biz News Briefs

Grammy winning producer/performer Pharrell Williams who is known for his fashion flair and launching two lines of luxury streetwear–Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream–and having collaborated on a winter line with Adidas, has been named as Louis Vuitton’s new menswear creative director.

“I am glad to welcome Pharrell back home, after our collaborations in 2004 and 2008 for Louis Vuitton, as our new Men’s Creative Director. His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton towards a new and very exciting chapter.” said Louis Vuitton CEO Pietro Beccari. Williams first collection for Louis Vuitton will be reveal in June during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris.

west Gas will also receive an accelerated credit of varying amounts.

“We know this provides only temporary relief from soaring bills,” Newsom added. “That’s why I’m asking the federal government to use its full authority to investigate the spike in natural gas prices and take any necessary enforcement actions. We’re going to get to the bottom of this because Californians deserve to know what’s behind these exorbitant bills.”

“We understand that our customers are starting to feel the pain caused by large changes in the national gas market,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Gillian Wright. “And we also recognize that we owe it to our customers to provide them with as many tools and tips as possible to help them find ways to prepare for colder weather and higher winter bills, including financial assistance in some cases.”

Among those programs is a Level Pay Plan that charges an average monthly bill based on your total gas usage in 2022 while a “Ways to Save Tool” analyzes your gas usage and offers recommendations on how to reduce it, including links to rebates.

Lower income households can access any number of programs, including a one-time grant of as much as $100 to help qualified households pay their bill.

Edison’s CARE program discounts rates by 30%. Their Family Electric Rate Assistance program cuts them by 18% and eligible customers can receive onetime grants of as much as $300.

The Department of Water and Power also offers programs to those facing financial adversity including the EZ-SAVE Low Income Customer Assistance Program offering income-qualified residential customers with a discount to help reduce the cost of electricity, water, and sewer services.

The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program also offers one-time grants to help pay gas and electric bills or to make your home more energy efficient and the California Alternate Rates for Energy program lowers gas rates by 20% to qualified households.

On the Money

27 Years Post Death, Basquiat Dominates the Art World

Around $2.2 billion has been spent on work by African American artists at auction over the past 10 years. Works by JeanMichel Basquiat account for $1.7 billion (77%) of it. In 2018, one of his works brought $110 million, the highest at that time ever paid for an American artist at auction. Today, among the most highly valued artists in the art market, his work–completed between 1981 and 1984, regularly sells at auction for tens of millions.

In fact, thirty-five years after Jean-Michel Basquiat’s death at age 27 from a heroin overdose, his art– highlighting racial inequalities and the lack of representation of racialized people in the media; celebrating Black culture; and highlighting the evils of white supremacy–is more relevant than ever.

Basquiat is everywhere from stage plays, film and apparel to auctions, countless exhibitions and famous collectors like Jay Z. And for $60,000 a month, art lovers can rent the storied studio space where he lived and worked until his death in 1988.

“Basquiat is not just an artist; for a lot of the people out there, he’s a religion,” said one dealer of the artist who ran away from home aged 17. Befriending many of the period’s most significant artistic cultural figures from Andy Warhol to Madonna, Basquiat quickly became a central player in New York’s art scene and in 1982.

While his first painting was sold for just $200, listed below are Basquiat’s top ten most expensive works:

Untitled, 1982 — $110.5 million

In This Case, 1983 — $93.1 million

Untitled (Devil), 1982 — $57.3 million

Versus Medici, 1982 — $50.8 million

Dustheads, 1982 — $48.8 million

Flexible, 1984 — $45.3 million

Warrior, 1982 — $41.9 million

The Field Next to the Other Road, 1981 — $37.1 million

La Hara, 1981 — $35 million

Untitled, 1981 — $34.9 million

Mariah Carey’s Liqueur Goes International

Mariah Carey’s Black Irish Cream Liqueur–which was launched stateside in August 2021 to great success–is set to expand to South America and the Caribbean this spring, with locations in Mexico, Brazil, and the Bahamas leading the way. This marks the brand's first international distribution.

"I am ecstatic to extend the reach of my cream-liqueur Black Irish to South America and the Caribbean," said Mariah Carey. "My fans there have supported and given so much to me, so of course I wanted to create an opportunity for them to enjoy this delicious liqueur!"

The name of the brand–Black Irish Cream Liqueur by Mariah Carey– is a nod to her heritage. Black Irish is crafted in Ireland with aged Irish whiskey and dairy sourced from Irish farms, resulting in its rich and decadent taste. Its full portfolio of flavors include original, salted caramel and white chocolate.

Statement Films Secures Major Funding from the likes of Magic Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson Statement Films, a women-led, data-driven entertainment startup, has announced that it has secured an

initial three quarters of a million dollars of funding from an array of titans across Hollywood, Sports and Business, including Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, LaTanya Richardson Jackson.

Founded by writer, producer, and political analyst, Areej Noor, Statement Films sources, develops and presents a pipeline of African-women-led IP to international buyers, bridging the gap between African and Diaspora women filmmakers and the global market. It showcases the growing collaboration and stewardship between Black America and Africa.

"I am incredibly excited to be a part of the journey with Statement Films. The company is doing such important work to fill a long overdue gap in the industry. We can look forward with optimism to the future of African women in film," stated Oscar winning actor Samuel Jackson.

"As a female creative, this is something I am particularly passionate about and I look forward to seeing the opportunities and progress that will unfold for African women through the incredible work of Areej and her team at Statement Films,” said LaTanya Richardson Jackson.

Louis Vuitton Names Pharrell Williams as Menswear Creative Director
11 L.A. Focus/January 2023
Money Matters continued to page 20

Imagine having to depend on bottles of water being trucked in to take a bath or having brown sludge come out of your tap when you turn on a water faucet. And no, we’re not talking about Flint, Michigan, or Jackson, Mississippi. It’s a reality right here in communities like Riverside and the Central Valley and perhaps even in your own water delivery system.

Over 27 million Americans get water from systems that violate health standards and that violators of state drinking water are 40% more likely to serve people of color. Fact is three out of four Black Americans are more likely to live near polluting facilities.

In 2019, the state water board ordered the dissolution of the Sativa Water District after widespread reports from residents of Compton and Willowbrook of murky brown water and a foul odor coming from their pipes.

A majority of Black Americans say they only drink bottled water. Just one in five Latinos are very confident in their tap water and nearly half of all tribal homes do not have reliable clean water for drinking or basic sanitation.

Yet, in our day to day lives, little consideration is given to how we get our water, how clean it is or the Colorado River and Sacramento Delta that for years have provided it. And if you’re not sure about why you should be thinking about your water, try living without it.

While most Angelenos take for granted that their water is clean and safe (and for the most part it is), there is indeed a water crisis. The fact is that just 17 of California’s 58 counties have local water systems that fully comply with state and federal drinking water standards.

This startling reality prompted the establishment of Groundswell, a project of the South L.A. non-profit Community Build–to give disadvantaged communities an equal voice and a seat at the table in decisions impacting their access to safe, clean, affordable water and to advocate for new policies that enhance water delivery to communities that have suffered for decades from toxic pollution, underinvestment

and unsafe drinking water.

Last month, Groundswell for Water Justice convened its second Water Justice Summit, bringing together over one hundred community leaders and social justice activists to raise the awareness of the threat posed by drought to communities of color throughout the state of California.

The summit featured presentations by Adan Ortega, Chair of the Metropolitan Water District; Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, State Senator Steven Bradford and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who presently serves as Governor Newsom’s Infrastructure czar.

“I don’t have to tell you what the history has been when it comes to building infrastructure, whether its water infrastructure or transportation infrastructure, some communities–communities of color–are almost always left behind,” Villaraigosa stated.

Groundswell jumped into action as the California State Auditor released a report detailing that nearly one million Californians did not have access to clean drinking water with the most impacted being people of color.

“It’s been said that homelessness has been noted as the greatest social justice issue of our modern times,” stated Community Build CEO Robert Sausedo. “I want to suggest to you that clean safe drinking water is the most important social justice issue of our modern day times and without it, it will halt building for homelessness. Without it, we will continue to see health disparities grow. Without it, food insecurity grows. This is about saving lives.”

Contaminants infecting drinking water include Chromium 6, high levels of nitrates and arsenic, and an aging infrastructure that can bring lead directly into households. One report has noted that 85% of infants with exposure to lead come from formula mixed with tap water.

“The source of contamination is different depending on where you find yourself living in the state. Sometimes these are naturally occurring contaminants,” says Karina Cervantez, who serves as the managing director of Cal Mutual, an association representing smaller water

“ 12 L.A. Focus/ March 2023
The one common denominator that we have is that the people that have the dirtiest water are people of color, because affluent communities don’t suffer in the same way. They find a way to figure it out and we need to find a way to figure it out.

systems across the state that service 1.3 million Californians.

“Often times they are legacy contaminants from industrial or agricultural practices, but one thing that remains consistent is that disproportionately communities of color, low income communities…they are the ones that are most often carrying the burden of these contaminated waters,” Cervantez reported.

Adds Sausedo, “The spigot for some has become wicked, and we cannot afford not to take this issue up on behalf of all Californians and Americans.”

That said, access to water is a complex series of key legal, regulatory proceedings and though it is changing, is for the most part determined by white dominated water boards.

“We are being held hostage by a few companies that take our collective public dollars and tell us how much it’s going to cost,” says Reginald Swilley of the Santa Clara, Ca.-based Minority Business Consortium.

“There are communities that do not have the economic and political power to demand that they have clean water, but we keep giving all our money to the folks that are delivering clean water in the nice neighborhoods.”

State Senator Steve Bradford is all too familiar with the issues.

“We’ve been fighting over water since the beginning of time in California,” Bradford said. “Lack of diversity in those who represent the industry. Lack of diversity in resources and the process in which we can fix this.

“Right now, as we experience this rainstorm, there’s millions of acre feet of water heading straight to the Ocean because we can’t capture and store that water,” Bradford continued. “We passed a water bond ten years ago during Jerry Brown’s tenure and it comes as no surprise that we have not built one project. Not one storage project. Not one conveyance project,” he continued, while referencing the numerous lawsuits waged by environmentalists who have blocked such projects claiming that the complex series of dams, channels, aqueducts and pumps responsible for transferring water from north to south in the state are killing fish and damaging the Delta’s fragile ecosystem with many threatened and endangered species.

“I’m an environmentalist…so I believe in the environment,” Bradford adds. “I believe we need to protect it, but it shouldn’t be the reason why we don’t do these projects.”

Yet as Sausedo was quick to point out, “Of all the environmental groups that focus on water, not one of them has demonstrated an interest in communities of color. Hence, a lizard and a fly have more rights to water than people of color.”

Metropolitan Water Board chair Adan Ortega believes that California’s current framework for restoring the Delta, is on the course of destruction.

“Studies in the early 2000s projected a seismic storm event in the following 50 years that could destroy not only our source of imported water, but the farms and towns of the Bay Delta region”, Ortega said.

“If you believe the studies of 20 years ago, nature itself will literally destroy the Delta bringing real human suffering and hardship to almost everyone in California within the next 30 years. Falling reservoir levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead have been steady and now

we find ourselves with the reckoning as lake levels threaten to reach dead pool.”

Proposed solutions to the water crisis include building storage to capture stormwater runoff, recharging groundwater basins, increasing supply capacity, greater recycling efforts, improved agricultural and farming practices, conservation, increased water rates and the development of energy efficient desalination plants (which serve to remove excess salt from sea water, converting it into safe water).

Speaking to the state’s need to streamline some of its infrastructure construction needs, Villaraigosa noted that Governor Newsom had implemented unprecedented measures to cut water use, build storage capacity and increase supply capacity with an emphasis on inclusion.

“From showers to flowers, toilet to tap, the science is there,” noted Bradford. “To continue to blame this on climate change, we’re never going to solve the problem.”

Indeed, for many, what has greatly exacerbated the state’s water crisis is climate change.

“The series of droughts that occurred in the last decade have exposed vulnerabilities in the design of our water system,” stated Ortega. “We did not anticipate the acceleration of climate change.”

In December, the MWD declared a Regional Drought Emergency for all of Southern California and called upon water agencies to immediately reduce their use of all imported supplies. Before the recent winter storms, the California Water Project had reduced its allocation to local water districts to below five percent of the requested supplies. The shortage would force local agencies to cut the amount of supplies available, forcing communities to begin more extreme conservation measures. In a positive development, the volume of water added to the supply through rainfall has allowed the water project to raise its allocation to 30% of the need.

While the recent series of storms slamming the west coast that have left the snowpack at twice the normal level, but experts agree that one wet year cannot erase years of drought.

“These storm events that are occurring right now could solve the drought if we have a few years of it but in the blink of an eye, leave us worse off than a drought,” said Ortega. “The weather events that can save us can also destroy us. The atmospheric rivers that seem to promise relief from drought can also crumble critical levees that currently protect our freshwater sources from the San Joaquin and Sacramento Bay Delta.

“We had two levees fail during the last atmospheric storm events,” he continued. “What that means is that if we were to have the wrong levees fail, it would introduce salt water into the aqueduct, rendering it useless. So, in an era of climate change, you can’t cherry pick when you’re going to believe in it and when you’re not going to believe in it and in a world where we really have to plan for a lot of variability in the weather, we’d be foolish to think that the party has just started with the end of the drought because indeed it hasn’t.”

For Ortega, summits like the one held by Groundswell should be about regulations and initiatives befitting of circumstances encouraging greater flexibility in how we use our human-made infrastructure while accommodating nature’s needs to meet human needs.

“Metropolitan’s Board is determined not to just identify our technical and infrastructure needs and projects, we are doing this in the context that compels us to perhaps incorporate the human right to water which was made into state law in 2012 with implications that have been scantly considered until now. Human rights are not supposed to be bureaucratic hostages.”

Affordability is yet another key factor, given that what is economically feasible for the state or water supplier is not always affordable for the consumer.

In California, there are very limited options to cover the cost of needed treatment and ongoing maintenance of water systems.

Says Cervantez, “Affordability becomes a critical concern of ours because if someone is struggling to pay their water bill, it means that they’re also struggling to contribute to the pot that makes up the money from shareholders to be able to fix and address issues with their system.”

In 2022, it was reported by Cal Matters that several hundred drinking water wells throughout the state exceeded the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed standard of 10 parts per billion for Chromium 6. The highest levels were reported in parts of Ventura, Los Angeles, Yolo, Merced and Riverside counties.

The cost of fixing the problem, more often than not, is reflected in customer rate increases, but water suppliers maintain that due to years of underinvestment in communities of color, rate increases may be inevitable. That may mean financing at the state level to develop more affordability programs to assist those in need.

States Ortega, “Tap water from our kitchen tap costs about a third of a cent per gallon. Modest rate increases from the third of a cent could build the financial war chest we need to adapt to climate change in addition to more state and federal investments. But yet while the public–rich and poor–is willing to pay a thousand times more for commercially filtered [bottled] water, city councils or water boards that propose rate increases are often threatened with recalls. This is the social, political and economic paradox we face and water suppliers must confront.

“It is our collective responsibility to allow that sufficient resources be made available to poor communities, particularly when it comes to meeting safe drinking water quality standards which is massively expensive as science and technology advance.”

For Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, Chair of the CA Latino Legislative Caucus, what came out of Groundswell’s summit last month was the need for action. “Underserved communities, disadvantaged communities, farmworker communities, don't have this most basic human right. Children and families do not have access to fresh, clean, affordable water. This should not be a reality in any community.”

Bradford, in his closing statement, pointed to the only factor that remains consistent in summits like the one held last month in L.A. and across this country.

“The one common denominator that we have is that the people that have the dirtiest water are people of color, because affluent communities don’t suffer in the same way. They find a way to figure it out and we need to find a way to figure it out.”


“Creed III is that moment – a time in my life where I’ve grown more sure of who I am, holding agency in my own story, maturing personally, growing professionally, and learning from the Greats like Ryan Coogler, most recently Denzel Washington, and other top tier directors I respect. All of which sets the table for this moment. This franchise and in particular the themes of Creed III are deeply personal to me. I look forward to sharing the next chapter of Adonis Creed’s story with the awesome responsibility of being its director and namesake.”

They are the words Michael B. Jordan, who makes his directorial debut in “Creed III” due in theaters March 3. And while Creed III is a continuation of the Rocky franchise, it


Zendaya Joins the Million Dollar Per Episode Club

Well, it’s official. Zendaya has joined the A-list of celebs that receive $1 million per episode thanks to her part in making HBO’s Euphoria one of the most viewed shows in the network’s history. The 26-year old actress expanded her role with the show last year when she became one of its executive producers, stating that the move felt like “the right thing”.

“The show,” she said, “has allowed me to come out of my shell as an actress, but ‘Hey, what if we tried this?’”

Zendaya’s portrayal in the show of 17-year-old Rue–a drug addict fresh from rehab with no real desire to stay clean as she navigates high school, sex and social media–has earned her two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.

Chris Rock to Open Up About “The Slap

Chris Rock’s upcom ing Netflix TV spe cial on

will not include Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa.

Instead, the story picks up in Los Angeles where Adonis Creed (Jordan) has been thriving in both his career and family life with his wife (Tessa Thompson) and their daughter (Mila Davis-Kent) after dominating the boxing world. That is until a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Da-

mian (Jonathan Majors), resurfaces after serving time in prison eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring and believing that Adonis stole his place. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian — a fighter who has nothing to lose.

Critics have praised Jordan’s skills both in front of and behind the camera with rave reviews for the supporting performances of Majors, Thompson and the rest of the cast. While family and heart are at the core of the film, the fight scenes were spectacular. Don’t waste any time in hitting your neighborhood cinema, scoring a box of popcorn and settling into that theatre seat to watch this film on the big screen. Creed III is a winner!



Hometown: Los Angeles

Age: 39

First Break: Veronica Mars

Breakout Role: Dear White People


Growing up in L.A., Tessa Thompson had plans of studying law and considered acting as more of a hobby until she joined the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company. The actress–who also sings–got her first big break in the TV series, Veronica Mars. It has been up since then thanks to starring roles in such box office blockbusters as Creed, Thor: Love & Thunder, Avengers: Endgame; and Selma; and such critically acclaimed films as Passing and Dear White People. This month she returns as Bianca in Creed III

March 4 is getting a lot of play and for good reason. It seems the 58-year old comedian is going to speak on Will Smith slapping him at the Oscars one year ago in the live stand-up special. While Rock has previously mentioned the incident at past performances during his Ego Death tour, he has not opened up or gone into detail about the incident. The much anticipated special titled “Selective Outrage” will feature such A-list celebrities as Amy Schumer, Cedric the Entertainer, IceT, Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, Paul McCartney, Sarah Silverman and Wanda Sykes. The show will stream live from Rock’s performance in Baltimore. A show after the special will feature Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, JB Smoove and Arsenio Hall.

As to Will Smith…

It will be interesting to see whether or not he will be watching. And while the Oscars may have named a crisis team to counter incidents like Will Smith’s slapping of Chris Rock, but Smith–who was named outstanding actor for Emancipation at the NAACP Image Awards–appears to have moved on. It is confirmed that he will team with Michael B. Jordan for a sequel to the 2007Apocalyptic hit film, I Am Legend. Smith reportedly wasn’t that high on the idea of doing the sequel until hearing that Jordan had signed on. But that’s not the only sequel that will have fans getting excited. Smith and Martin Lawrence have officially announced that yes, there will be a fourth in-

stallment of the Bad Boys franchise with Miami-Dade police detectives Mike and Marcus.

DeVon Franklin To Star in New Series

After years of being behind the camera, prolific producer DeVon Franklin will now be in front of it, starring as a TV talk show host in a scripted comedy chronicling the trials of a dysfunctional dater. The show, titled “Played”, is one of two projects at BET for Franklin (whose bestselling books include Produced By Faith and The Truth About Men). The other project is a family drama inspired by the life of baseball Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson turned mortuary owner. Franklin’s current project for BET include the hit drama, “Kingdom Business”, which is now in its second season. But with three films in the works–“Flamin’ Hot”, “Masters of The Universe and Gran Turismo–Franklin is not giving up his day job as producer.

From Bridgerton to The White House?

While the latest installment of Shonda Rhimes Bridgerton stories–Queen Charlotte–is set to make its debut on May 4, it’s not all Shonda Rhimes has brewing. In fact, Shondaland is teaming with Netflix for a murder-mystery drama, The Residence, based in part on Kate Anderson Brower’s book, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House”. High-power stars cast in the eight-episode screwball comedy set in the upstairs, downstairs, and back stairs of the White House include Andre Braugher, Uzo Aduba, Isaih Whitlock Jr., Edwina Findley and Susan Kelechi Watson (This is Us).

On the price of fame: I don't like being the center of the discourse when it's around my personal life or when things are in the press that I know are untrue, but it feels like relatively speaking it's a small price to pay. I sometimes wish that people would remember that a performer they see in the media might be playing a character at any moment. This idea that they know you is faulty.

On being an introvert/extrovert: There is this idea that if you’re a performer, you’re comfortable with or interested [in] being watched. For me, that’s not necessarily the case. My work has sometimes meant that I’ve had to pass as more of an extrovert.

On cheating at Monopoly:

If I don’t show a natural aptitude, I don’t like it, typically. I always cheated as a kid. Famously in my family, I was always cheating at Monopoly. And I was really good at sleight of hand, but they’d still let me be the banker. I was always stealing money

On her character in Creed III:

In the past, it's been a lot of work to make sure that she [her character Bianca] has agency and an arc in the context of these sports films, essentially. I wanted to make sure that she's not just moving the plot forward, and that she actually has something interesting to do. I typically do that work with the writers, but this time around, I could do that work more actively with Mike. I also had a lot more freedom to improvise. He gave me a lot of license to do that, so that felt different. But it didn’t change the dynamic between these characters. We’ve been making these films for almost eight years, and Mike and I have grown up a lot. So there’s ways in which the trajectory of the characters also has an interesting poetry to our own personal journeys.”

On her favorite performers:

All my favorite performers have been masters of artifice, whether it’s Eartha Kitt, David Bowie or Prince — they are all inventions. There’s just beauty in invention, particularly if it sets you free to be your authentic self. Which is not to say that their inventions are not part and parcel of who they are, but they’re inventions they had to create to get outside the parameters of the time or place in which they were born. And that, to me — that is so cool.

14 L.A. Focus/ March 2023 HOLLYWOOD
Chez Hadley Luther: The Fallen Son March 10 (Netflix) A Good Person March 31 A Thousand and One March 31 A Snowy Day in Oakland March 17

RedCarpet Style

ANGELA BASSETT was a hit in this mermaid style yellow Giambattista Valli gown with tulle

SHERYL LEE RALPH wore a champagnecolored beaded Tadashi Shoji gown

Eye On Gospel

Kierra Sheard’s Latest Offering Grammy®, Stellar, and Dove Award-winning artist Kierra Sheard-Kelly, is releasing her new single and music video for “Praise Through”. The chart topping vocal powerhouse delivers this first new single for 2023 from her upcoming new album All Yours, with “Praise Through” following the September 2022 release of her album’s first single and video for “Miracles,” featuring Pastor Mike Jr.

Marking her seventh studio album, All Yours –releasing this month–is a follow-up to her chart-topping, Grammy-nominated sixth studio album KIERRA. The project features additional collaborations with her brother J. Drew Sheard II, Mali Music, Anthony Brown, Adia and more. An uplifting, soul-clapping track, the album’s first single “Miracles” feat. Pastor Mike Jr. is currently out at Gospel radio. The new track “Praise Through,” is heartwarming and personal, offering positive words of encouragement that nothing is impossible to overcome no matter the circumstances. Sheardview of her new album to a sold-outterview taping in Nashville with the “We Sound Crazy” podcast on -

NEICY NASH glowed in this yellow Vera Wang evening gown with an empire waist.

ZANDAYA is pretty in pink in this strapless pink Valentino gown with a sculpted rosette train

ruary 9th, at the National Museum of African American Music.

Kierra Sheard-Kelly has been singing professionally since the age of nine. As the daughter of Gospel icon Karen Clark Sheard, from the legendary family group, The Clark Sisters, Kierra has grown up steeped in Gospel and continues to blaze her own trail, driving contemporary Gospel and ministry forward as an artist/songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, and with her family’s company Karew Entertainment, based in their native Michigan. The multi-faceted entertainer and entrepreneur starred in the acclaimed biopic The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel portraying her mother Karen Clark Sheard, the movies Miracles Across 125th Street and Line Sisters, and has dropped new styles this year with her popular clothing brand for curvy fashions, Eleven60.

Pastor Mike is Back on Top

Birmingham’s Rock City Church Pastor Mike McClure Jr., aka Pastor Mike has debuted at No. 4 on Billboard’s gospel albums chart with his third album, “Impossible”.

Pastor Mike’s first album, “Live Free,” debuted on the Billboard top gospel album chart on Oct. 5, 2019, and spent six weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 1 on Oct. 26, 2019.

His second album, “Winning,” debuted on Nov. 12, 2022, and peaked on the top gospel album chart at number 10.

“I take pride in being a Gospel Artist!,” Pastor Mike shared. “I “get” to spread hope & inspiration across the world! I’m on a mission!”

The song “Impossible” debuted on Billboard’s gospel airplay chart on Oct. 8, 2022, and has been on the chart for 20 weeks. On social media, the Stellar-award win-

VIOLA DAVIS was radiant in this floor length yellow Valentino gown

ning artist shared that the “Impossible” album had more than 1.8 million streams on iTunes in its first week.

“I only want to impact and inspire lives,” Pastor Mike has said. “That’s my “why” that’s my purpose. If I told you my story you wouldn’t believe it… I’m proof God is still doing the impossible…”

Pastor Mike, who has been dubbed by some as ‘The New King of Urban Inspiration’, recently announced that Rock City Church would help launch a new congregation called One City Church in Nashville in 2024 led by lead pastors Hollis and Elise Thomas.

Melvin Crispell’s Sophomore Gifting

Grammy®, Dove and Stellar Award nominated artist, Melvin Crispell III, has released his latest single and lyric video for “Alright.” The 2019 BET’s “Sunday Best” winner delivers this first single “Alright” for 2023 from his upcoming sophomore album, No Failure. “Alright,” sends an uplifting message of hope that there is a path to happiness despite hardship. Melvin, who has gone through the pain of loss, expresses his story of healing through the power of music and God. As Melvin is backed by a harmonious chorus, his voice of empowerment encourages listeners that everything will be alright, despite any challenges along the way.

Melvin’s upcoming second album marks his first live album recording, and follows on the 2020 release of his debut studio album, I’ve Got a Testimony, which included the #1 Gospel single “Wonderful Is Your Name,” where he created a personal rendition to the classic song written by his late father Melvin Crispell Jr. Melvin’s new hit rendition garnered GRAMMY® and Dove Award nominations, and following his debut album, Melvin was also nominated at the 2021 Stellar Awards, for New Artist of the Year.

It might have been raining in L.A. but it appeared to be spring on the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, with yellow dominating at a top color pallet. Our top style choices are featured below.

Agape Church of Los Angeles

Worship Center: Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center 4305 Degnan Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008

Star-Studded City Wide Tribute Concert Honors Bishop Kenneth Ulmer; Bill Winston’s Greatness Unlocked Tour Makes Stop in L.A.

Conference Of National Black Churches Premieres New Talk Show

The Conference of National Black Churches (CNBC) has debuted “Healing & Hope”, discussing and exploring various topics related to the impact of COVID-19 and other issues that are critical to the Black Church and the communities it serves. “Healing & Hope” will uplift, inform and call viewers to action in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and other of today’s most pressing social justice issues.

After a monthlong series of celebrations leading up to the official retirement of Kennth Ulmer as Senior Pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church, newly installed Pastor J.P. Foster has officially taken the charge. The celebration culminated with a Citywide Tribute Concert at West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Erica Campbell and Bebe Winans served as co-host of the five-hour long event coordinated by Grammy winning producer Warryn Campbell and featuring Kathy Taylor, Beverly Crawford, Jonathan Slocumb, Mary Mary, Todd Dulaney, Chrystal Rucker, Maranda Curtis, Charles Jenkins and Israel Houghton.

The celebration also included L.L. Cool J, Mayor Karen Bass and County Supervisor Holly Mitchell as well as taped video messages from Blair Underwood, Victoria and Joel Osteen, Nia Long, Fred Hammond, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Tyrese Gibson. Making a surprise appearance was Kirk Franklin who served for a time as youth pastor of the church.

“I am a proud son, and it was very important that the church paid no money for me to get here. I had to come on my own cause I owe you so much. You have talked me off a billion ledges. You checked me and challenged me. The integrity you have while no one else is watching. You saw something in me. I owe you everything.”

“Bishop,” Foster said from the stage, “I believe you are Heaven’s MVP not because you’re willing to take the shot, but because you’re loving and humble enough to pass the ball to people like me. So, Bishop you are my and Faithful Central’s MVP…most valuable pastor.”

Bill Winston’s Greatness Unlocked Tour

Last month, Los Angeles was the fourth stop of Bill Winston’s Operation Ten City (OTC) campaign that began last year. Operation Ten City: Greatness Unlocked –held at the L.A. Convention Center– is a tencity initiative to inspire faith-based communities to activate hidden potential and pursue the fullness of God’s calling for their lives, businesses, and organizations. Through programming centered on community outreach, business, and entrepreneurship, as well as faith and the supernatural, Operation Ten City supports the development of people and communities with a vision to help them access true economic prosperity and self-sufficiency through wealth-building and ownership.

“Our goal with Operation Ten City is to bring economic restoration and prosperity to ten cities of our nation, including Los Angeles, and to close the wealth gap in black and brown communities through entrepreneurship and ownership,” says Dr. Bill Winston, who is not only a renown Chicagobased pastor, entrepreneur and business leader. “One of the main reasons for poverty is the absence of self-production. So, OTC is coming to empower and turn people who primarily have been consumers into producers.”

Guests will include some of the nation’s most prominent faith leaders including Bishop J. Drew Sheard, Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle, Church of God in Christ, Inc. (COGIC), Senior Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Jr., African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Senior Bishop Kenneth Monroe, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AMEZ), Senior Bishop Lawrence L. Reddick, III, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), President Jerry Young, National Baptist Convention, USA Inc., and President David Peoples, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

The 30-minute show will air twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 PM on the Impact Network.

“CNBC is committed to serving as a voice within the Christian community to celebrate triumphs and safeguard both spiritual and physical wellbeing for over 30,000 congregations nationwide,” said Dr. Richardson. “When the world shifted during COVID-19, so did our work. “Healing & Hope” will continue this work, confronting the impacts of COVID-19 and more through conversations with CNBC leadership, guest interviews, and sharing the stories of those who have been impacted.”

Western Baptist State Convention to Host Mid-Winter Board Meeting

The Western Baptist State Convention–under the leadership of Rev. Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick–is gearing up for its 133rd Mid-Winter Board Meeting March 4 — March 9 at McCoy Memorial Baptist Church (pastored by Dr. R.A. Williams).

Those slated to speak at the annual convention include Dr. Franklyn Richardson, president of the Conference of National Black Churches, Rev. Xavier Thompson, Evangelist Manuel Scott, Jr. and Rev. K.W. Tulloss. The theme of the convention is “Led by the Holy Spirit, That We Do Not Fall Away During Unprecedented Times”.

In other local church news: Last month, Holman United Methodist Church revived its Annual Concert of Negro Spirituals Concert, curated and directed by William Campbell, Jr. The Negro Spirituals Concert–held on February 26– is one of Holman's longeststanding musical offerings, and 2023 marks the first year since the COVID-19 pandemic that Holman Choir performed its signature concert live.

Corprate Office: 4602 Crenshaw Blvd, Suite 2A, Los Angeles, CA 90043 (323) 295-5571 www.agapela.org

Bishop Craig A. Worsham, Founder & Senior Pastor

Sunday School: 10:00am

Morning Worship: 11:00am

Loving, Lifting & Liberating Humanity Through The Word

Bethesda Temple Apostolic Faith 4909 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90043 (323) 299-2591 • thevoice4904@att.net

Pastor Kyron S. Shorter

Sunday Morning Prayer: 9:00am

Sunday School: 9:30am

Morning Worship: 11:00am

Children’s Church: 11:00am

Sunday Evening Service: 6:00pm

Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church 3719 West Slauson Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90043 (323) 296-5610 • www.bkcamechurchla.org

Rev. Mary S. Minor, DMin,Pastor

Sunday Church School: 8:00 AM and 11:30 AM

Sunday Morning Worship: 9:00 AM (in-person and virtual)

Thursday Bible Study with Pastor Minor (via Zoom): 6:00 PM

Please call the church office for virtual information.

Bryant Temple AME Church 2525 W. Vernon Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90008 (323) 293-6201 • F: (323) 293-0082

Pastor Dwaine Jackson

Sunday School: 8:15am

Morning Worship: 9:15 am

Bible Study (Tues): Noon

Pastor’s Bible Study( Tues): 6:00pm

Calvary Baptist Church 4911 W. 59th Street,Los Angeles, CA,90056 (323)298-1605•F: (310) 568-8430 • calvarybaptistla.org

Rev. Dr. Virgil V. Jones

Sunday Prayer: 8:30am

Sunday School: 9:30am

Sunday Worship: 11:00am

Wednesday Bible Study: 12:00pm & 7:00pm

We are the Church on the Hill where the Light Shines Bright!

Crenshaw Christian Center 7901 South Vermont, Los Angeles, CA 90044 (323) 758-3777 • F: (323)565-4231 • www.faithdome.org

Dr. Frederick K. Price

LiveWorship Service:Sun 10:30am,Tues 11:00am and 7:30pm at faithdome.org, Facebook, Roku, YouTube and the EIFM app (Download in Apple Store and Google Play)Website: faithdome.org

Giving Options: Text to 28950, type EIFMO and amount you wish to give (ex.,EIFMO 50) or mail to: P.O. Box 90000, Los Angeles, CA 90009

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

Sunday LiveStream: 10:00am (facebook.com/christianfellowshipla)

Sunday Conference Call: 10:00am (310-372-7549 / code: 342408)

Tue/Thurs Morning Word & Prayer: 7:00am

Wed. Bible Study w/ Elder Stephen Brown (701-802-5001 / code: 825252#

God’s Faithful Disciple of Jesus Christ/ Prayer Clinic & Deliverance Ministry P.O. Box 561368, Los Angeles, CA 90056 (323) 293-7566 • www.gfdjc.org •gfdjc@att.net

Dr.Ruby I. Cottle, Ph.D., Pastor/Teacher Services every Friday: 7:00pm We


Church News
Evangelical Lutheran
3901 W. Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, Ca 90018 Watch Dr. Cottle on HBN TV Wed’s 7:30am Channel 886 Dish,Smart TV Local Channel 35.2 Listen to Dr. Cottle Sundays on KJLH at 5:00am 16 L.A. Focus/March 2023
meeet at:
First AME Pastor J. Edgar Boyd and Mayor Karen Bass present Supervisor Holly Mitchell a certificate honoring her services as part of FAME’s Annual Citywide Kick-Off of African American Heritage Month. Other honorees included Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove and Assemblymember Chris Holden. Kirk Franklin performs at citywide tribute to Bishop Ulmer

Grant AME Church

10435 S. Central Avenue • Los Angeles, CA 90002 (323) 564-1151 • F: (323) 564-5027

Rev. Dr. Timothy o. Coston, Jr.

Sunday School: 8am

Worship: 9:30am Wed. Bible Study: 11:30am •6pm

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) 703-5868 • www.holmanumc.com

Email: holman@holmanumc.com

Rev. Dr. Ken Walden, Senior Pastor

Sunday Worship: 8:00am & 11:00am

Sunday Radio: KJLH 102.3FM at 11am

Sunday School: 9:30am (Children/Youth) & 9:45am (Adults)

Bible Study: Every Thursday @ Noon

We Gather,Grow,Go and Live the Gospel of Jesus Christ

McCarty Memorial Christian Church

4103 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018 (323) 731-4131 • www.mccartychurch.org

Senior Pastor Edward Anderson

Sunday Worship: 10:45am

Bible Study: Tues @12:30pm/Wed @6pm

Zoom Call: (605) 472-5454 Access:188857

Online Stream Live: Sundays@10:45am to www.mccartychurch.org

Give: Text 77977


Mount Moriah Baptist Church of Los Angeles, Inc.

4269 South Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90037

(323) 846-1950 •Fax: (323) 846-1964

Rev. Johnteris Tate-Pastor

Sunday Church School: 8:00am

Worship Service: 9:15am

Baptist Training Union: 7:00am

Tues. Bible Study/Prayer: Noon & 7:00pm

Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church

3669 W. 54th St. Los Angeles, CA 90043

Phone (323) 291-1121•F: (323) 291-1133

office@sinai.church • www.sinai.church

George E. Hurtt, Pastor-Teacher

Sunday Worship: 8am,10am

Tuesday Night( as scheduled): 7:15pm

All services stream live on our website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. Call for any pandemic-related questions.

Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church

1300 E. 50th Street Los Angeles, CA 90011 (323) 235-2103 •

Rev. Joshua Daniels, Pastor

Morning Worship: 10am

(In Service and Online Live Stream Worship)

Sunday School: 8:45am

Wed. Bible Study: 7:00pm www.mtzionla.org

New Antioch Church of God in Christ

7826 So. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90044

(323) 778-7965 • www.newantiochcogic.org

Superintendent Jeffrey M. Lewis

Sunday Early Worship: 8am

Sunday Morning Worship: 11am

Sunday School: 9:30am

Tuesday Bible Study: 11am

Wednesday In The Word: 7pm

All services streamed: Facebook and YouTube

@New Antioch Church of God In Christ

ONE LA Potter’s House Church 614 N. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (818) 763-4521 • hello@one.online

Pastor Touré and Sarah Roberts

The ONE Experience Online: Sundays: 7A |9A |11A |1P |6P Thursdays: 5P |8P (PST) @toureroberts @sarahjakesroberts @one.online


Loretta Jones

City of Refuge

St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church 5017 S. Compton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011 (323) 231-1040 • stmarkmbcofla.org

Reverend Dr. Lovely Haynes, Pastor

Sunday Worship: 8:30am

Sunday classes follow morning service

Tues Eve Family Prayer Line: 6:30pm

Wednesday Noon: Hour of Power Prayer line

Wednesday Bible Study: 6:00pm (Zoom & Facebook)

Sunday Exposition of Sunday School


Contributor KAREN A. BROWN

As a child growing up in Cleveland, Mississippi, Loretta Jones–wife of Bishop Noel Jones and First Lady of the City of Refuge–loved dressing up on Sundays to go to church.

“Being a southern girl, it was part of our culture to be elegant when we went out,–to dress a certain way for business, for social outings and especially for church which meant beautiful hats and skirts and jackets and pearls,” Jones recalls.

Back then in the deep south, the pastor’s wife didn’t have the status of first lady.

“You were known just as pastor’s wife. We didn't even know her name,” Jones said. “They didn't really have a big role in the church.”

That is the hardly the case now and particular with Jones, who manages the church’s day-to-day operations. As an expert chef and nutritionist– she also runs the restaurant housed in the church and apart from the church operates an online boutique.

“It's an interesting role especially if you love people and you want to work with the community,” Jones says of being a first lady. “For me, it's something that comes natural. Whatever area of help the pastor needs, the first lady just falls into that role–touching people, learning who people are, making sure they feel welcomed, loved, and that they have a voice.”

For Jones, the role comes with a burning desire to improve the lives of those who attend the church.

“We just had a beautiful presentation to address breast cancer and prostate awareness,” Jones reports. “We’re working towards building a beautiful community center where we can provide not only quality services for the inner city–including healthcare and build skills as well. We're just dealing with everything that plagues the black community.

“It’s all about service”.

Park Windsor Baptist Church 1842 W. 108th St. Los Angeles, CA 90047 (323) 756-3966 • RevTerrellTaylor@sbcglobal.net

Rev. Terrell Taylor

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

Phillips Temple CME Church

973 East 43rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90011 (323) 233-4783

Rev. Dr. Darrell Wesley, Pastor

Sunday Worship: 10am

Bible Study: Wednesdays at Noon

Online: Facebook.com/ PhillipsTempleCME.LosAngeles

Trinity Baptist Church 2040 W. Jefferson Blvd., L.A., CA 90018 • (323) 735-0044

F: (323) 735-0219• trinitybaptistchurchofla.org

Rev. Alvin Tunstill, Jr

Sunday Worship Services: 10:30am

YouTube: tv.trinitybaptist.cloud

Sunday Radio Broadcast KJLH-FM: 9am Wed. Night Virtual Bible Study: 7pm (Meeting ID: 480-271-5449. Or call 1-699-900-6833; give zoom ID Sign-in at 6:55pmrchofla.org

Weller Street Baptist Church

129 S. Gless St, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (323) 261-0949 • F: (323)264-6601 • www.wellerstreetlive.com

Pastor K.W. Tulloss

Sunday School: 8:00am

Sunday Morning Worship: 9:00am

Tues. Bible Study: 6:45pm www.wellerstreetlive.com

West Angeles Church of God In Christ 3600 W. Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016 (323) 733-8300 • www.westa.org

Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:30pm

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., Senior Pastor Charles E. Blake II Co-Pastor Sunday Service: 10:00am Sunday Radio Broadcast: KJLH 102.3 FM: 10:00am

In Compton

Citizens of Zion Missionary Baptist Church 12930 No. Lime Ave., Compton, CA 90221 (310) 638-0536 • F: (323) 636-2080 • www.citizensofzion.org

Rev. Bobby Newman, Jr., Senior Pastor; Rev. B.T. Newman, Pastor (Pastor Emeritus)

Service Time: 10:45

Virtual Worship: Youtube

Greater Zion Church Family 2408 North Wilmington Avenue, Compton, CA 90222 (310) 639-5535 • (Tues - Thurs 10am -4pm)

Dr. Michael J. Fisher, Senior Pastor Sunday Worship: 9:00am

Online Wednesday Bible Study: 7:00pm FB: GreaterZionChurchFamily IG: GZCFamily www.gzcfamily.com

Holy Chapel Missionary Baptist Church 1016 E. Rosecrans Avenue, Compton, CA 90220 (310) 537-3149 • www.holychapelbc.com

Rev. Dr. George L. Thomas

Morning Worship: 8:00am

Sunday School: 10:30am

Wed. Mid-Week Bible Study: 7:00pm Sun. New Members’ Class: 10:45am

Communion/1st Sunday: 8:00am Broadcast KALI 900AM - Sun:2-3:00pm

Love and Unity Christian Fellowship 1840 S. Wilmington Ave, Compton 90220

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 5449, Compton, CA 90224

Apostle Ronald C. Hill Sr., Founder/Pastor

Live Stream Sunday Worship:10am/6:30pm

Live Stream Bible Studies: Wed 7:30am & 9:00am

Live Stream Prayer w /Apostle Hill: Fri: 9am Food For Your Soul TV Ministry

Impact TV Network: Mon-Fri PST 6:30am The Word Network Fridays @ 12:30pm


Pastor Profile: Johnteris Tate

Church: Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church

How Long at church: 5 years

Hometown: Memphis

Family: Divorced, One daughter

Congratulations on your fifth year anniversary at Mt. Moriah. What were the goals when you first came to the church and are you on track with them?

Seeing five years later the impact that the church really has and needs in Los Angeles is amazing to me. We have a long way to go but we are moving forward, but the biggest thing is there is a major transition throughout the body of Christ and most definitely in Los Angeles. In order to have stronger churches, we must become unified and work together. In this season, we need each other.

Where do you see your role?

In the bridging of the gap–having been that young person who takes on a historic, major church and keeps it afloat. I think that I was probably the first young guy (in a long time) to come in and take on a great church. After that it was a continuous flow. You see everybody transitioning and giving younger guys an opportunity at great churches.

Given your age, are you making an impact with youth? With every generation comes an impact on somebody, but with Los Angeles, you don’t have a lot of young people my age in churches for the most part. You have to literally go find them and church them and see in what area the church can connect with them.

What area is that for you?

I think one of the greatest problems that we have in church is that this generation feels left out, unheard and possibly unwanted, so what will connect us more is a listening ear. We have to be able to listen and hear what it is that they’re saying because there are so many issues…so many needs.

Was L.A. what you thought it would be for ministry and how have you evolved as a pastor?

I thought it was more church–that people went to church all the time, and of course that wasn’t the case, but I believe that L.A. has grown me up to be a man. Not just a pastor, but a man, because you have to be a strong individual to lead in a town like Los Angeles and by following two strong men, it made a strong man. And I believe when you become a strong man, you can become a strong leader and a great pastor. Now, one of the things COVID taught me is that all of this can be gone tomorrow. Everything can be shut down. Everybody can be turned away. One of the most pow erful things that could have ever happened to me is leading a church through something that no other pastor in the history of that church has had to lead people through. We didn’t crash. We didn’t’ go under. But the Lord’s grace was upon our church and al lowed us to make a comeback and we’re com ing back strong.

When did you start preaching and what did you know to preach about?

I started preaching at the age of nine. I’m unlike most pastors these days that have a father or grandfather, uncle or cousin who is a pastor. I’m a first generation preacher and at the age of nine I felt a strong pull, because my Grandmother kept me in church and I just felt a strong pull of God pushing me to preach his word. I always loved church– loved to be around pastors and preachers.

Was it hard to grow up a “church boy” in a society where there is so much negative imaging?

I got called “Church Boy”, but it helped because everyone knew me. I was always speaking at programs and at the majority of everyone’ s church and it was a kind of a fun thing for me. They weren’t picking on me or looking at me like, “Aw he’s too good.” No, in fact I was kind of a trendsetter. I would wear slacks and sweaters and dress shirts to school, and it got to the point where the principals and administration said we’re going to have dress up day at school once a week. Did a lot of people think of you as an old soul and what do you feel about that?

I do get that a lot. I tell people all the time, that’s my thing! I’m an old school preacher with a new school flavor.

Was there much thought given to the fact that you were so young being called to an older more established church?

Actually, I wasn’t intimidated. I know how to love on the older saints as well as the younger ones. You can’t just try to bring in all the young and forget about the stability and foundation.

I’m sure you had a great many offers to pastor other churches, how did come to choose Mt. Moriah?

I’ve always had someone in my corner saying, “Hey I’ve got this young man, ‘Your people will enjoy him.” As to Mt. Moriah, there were a couple of senior pastors–Bishop Rudolph McKissick and Pastor Jamal Bryant–behind the scenes who recommended me to Dr. Wade.

Mt. Moriah is not your first church–you got your start in Memphis…

The church I pastored in Memphis was the First Apollonian Baptist Church, and I was there five years, starting at the age of seventeen. When I started with that church there were probably about twenty members, and the Lord allowed it to grow so when I left, the church had maybe 300 members on roll. It was a good growing experience for me, to teach me how to love people and to master pastoral duties. It wasn’t anywhere near the size of Mt. Moriah, but it was a great church with a great spirit, and it was an incredible and rewarding journey.

What did you learn about yourself in the process?

I learned patience. Being young you think because you’re young and ambitious with all the enthusiasm and energy, that everything should come fast. But if anything, church has taught me to be patient–that throughout ministry, you don’t want swelling, you want growth. That you don’t want things in life to come too fast, because like my Grandmother says, if you can get it fast you can lose it fast. So, growth comes from patience. Patience has taught me how to be slow to speak, slow to get angry, and slow to listen.

What can we expect to see from Mt. Moriah in the next five years?

Mt. Moriah is up to some great things. We have some plans in place for renovations and we’ve already upgraded a lot around the church. You’ll also see more activity in the community–more job fairs, more college fairs. I can’t even tell it all. It can’t be explained. It can only be experienced, but one of the biggest things we’re trying to make our church about is family. Mt. Moriah for 76 years (going on 77) has been built around strong, healthy families so we’re bringing family back.

The City of Refuge 14527 S. San Pedro St, Gardena, CA 90248 (310) 516-1433

Bishop Noel Jones

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

4725 S. Gramercy Place, Gardena, CA 90249 (310) 715-8400

Pastor David W. Cross

Morning Worship/Livestream:10:00 am Hispanic Ministry Worship/Livestream:12Noon

Word Power Wednesday/Livestream: 7:00pm

The CROSSWORD with Pastor Cross: YouTube

Atherton Baptist Church 2627 W. 116th Street Hawthorne,CA 90250 (323) 757-3113 • www.athertonbc.org

F: 323-757-8772 • athertonbaptist@sbcglobal.net

Pastor Larry Weaver

Sunday Morning Worship: 8:00 & 11:00 am

Sunday Bible Enrichment Class: 9:45am

Mon.-Thurs. Bible Study: 7:00pm

Wednesday Bible Study: 12:30pm & 7:00pm

Bible Enrichment Fellowship International 400 E. Kelso, Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 330-4700 • www.bamcm.org

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

Pastor Wendy Howlett

Sunday Morning Worship & Word: 9:30am

Wednesday Prayer & Bible Study: 7:00pm View Sunday Worship: www.youtube.com (Under Blessed Family Covenant Church) www.blessedfamilycovenant.org

Center of Hope LA 9550 Crenshaw Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90305 #centerofhope•#cohla•Info@GO2HOPE.com Give: Text COHLA to (833) 246-7144

Pastor Geremy L. Dixon Service Times: 8:00am & 10:00am Watch Via: Facebook|YouTube|Live Stream Closer To People...Closer To God! www.GO2Hope.com

Faithful Central Bible Church 333 W. Florence Ave. Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 330-8000 • F: (310) 330-8035

Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, Ph.D. Senior Pastor/Teacher

Sunday Services: 7:00 am & 9:30am

Wed. Mid-Week Service: 7:00pm

The Tabernacle is located at 321 N. Eucalyptus Ave., Inglewood www.faithfulcentral.com

Jacob’s Ladder Community Fellowship, inc. 1152 E. Hyde Park Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90302 (866) 330-1702 • F: (310) 674-0760

Watchman/Shepherd Dr. Robert T. Douglas Sr.

Sunday Fresh Start & Prayer 9:00am

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 www.jacobladderschurch.com

In Gardena
In Hawthorne
In Inglewood

From the Pulpit: “I Did My Best”

Faithful Central Bible Church

f we were poor, we didn’t know it. My parents were both hard working church folk in E. St. Louis, Illinois; often working multiple jobs to raise and educate three children. My mother used to clean white people’s houses while keeping her own house immaculate. On more than one occasion, often after Christmas, a birthday, or some special occasion I would hear my dad say to my mother, “Well, Ba, I did my best.” This coming from a man who I always knew as a faithful follower of Jesus and on whose tombstone in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, I had etched these very words: “I did my best.” As I look back, the honor of being your pastor for over half of my life, I echo the words of my father, George Washington, Jr: “I did my best.”

I do this, cautiously echoing words of Paul the Apostle who wrote to his spiritual son, Timothy and declared in rapid riveting revelations: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” I struggled as I felt the Lord drawing me over and over again with his majestic magnet to this text. I felt Paul might be a bit arrogant, speaking with veiled boastful pats on his own back. However, the more I tried to skip the tug and pull of the text, I began to hear Paul’s heart more than his words.

Paul was speaking with the mindset I often felt when I was in school and the teacher would say, after a test “Okay, class, now grade your own papers.” It was not only a display of the trust in our integrity that the teacher held, but it was a chance to assess our own progress, retention, and success (or lack thereof) in absorbing our assignments and academic challenges.

I particularly remember evaluating an exam and coming to the last question, and with a sigh, saying, “I did pretty good.” Such might have been the case as Paul reviewed his call, stewardship, and life of Kingdom service.

The second reason I hesitated to venture into the tenor and tone of this text was that it most often is heard at funerals! After all, Paul says “the time of my departure is at hand.” Now, in full disclosure the word for departure can refer to departing this life. And many historians interpret Paul’s words in this text as a reference to his anticipation of his own death.

On the other hand, the same word for departure is used as a nautical term referring to a boat being loosed from its moorings, or from the dock to set sail. The same word is also used in a military context to describe soldiers who have been camped at a particular place and now they break camp in order to continue to the next battlefield.

For 41 years, the cables of my commitment have been secured to this Family of Champions. For over half of my life, this has been my military home base from which I have been “on the battlefield for my Lord.” But the key

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is the word “time”, the time of my departure has come.

It is time in the sense of the Eugene Peterson’s contemporary interpretation of Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 6. “There is an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth… a right time to hold on and another to let go.” This is the right time for me to loosen the boat of my life from the dock of this pulpit, the right time to break camp, this military foxhole from which I have fought so many spiritual battles; the right time to let go of the weight of leading this family of champions.

But — if it’s the right time, why is it so hard? I got some help with this from my friend and brother, Pastor James Meeks, who recently retired as founding pastor of the great Salem Baptist Church of Chicago. Pastor Meeks says it’s hard because the bond between pastor and people is a unique God-given, holy bond in the Spirit. It is a bond that is other worldly. Unimaginable in the natural, but unbreakable in the Spirit. Pastor Meeks said it’s because the pastor is there at the critical moments of the life of those who walk by faith. He said we were together at the time of spiritual birth, with you in the divine delivery room where you came forth from darkness into the marvelous light. Often with you as you went through many dangers, toils, and snares.

If not walking with you, cheering you on, agonizing with you, praying for you, then holding one hand while you held with the other; holding on to God’s unchanging hand. Trying to strengthen you so you don’t fall, yet standing with you when you slip and stumble and can’t stand by yourself, bellowing at you when you do fall: “get up, don’t stay down there, you’re better than that; you’re stronger than that. You can do it.” There reminding you when you tended to forget, “my God shall supply all your needs” reminding you, “trouble won’t last always” reminding you, after He has tried you, you shall come forth as gold — you’re gonna make it, you’re coming out of this mess. It ain’t over til God says it’s over.

Over and over God has had to remind me that the call on this house is to “build champions for divine deployment”. God didn’t bring you here to stay. You were just a pilgrim traveling through this barren land, and the Family of Campions was a stop along the highway to heaven.

But then Paul takes it to another level. We don’t know anything about Timothy’s natural father except that he was Greek. But Paul was his spiritual father. For 41 years the Lord has given me spiritual sons and daughters.

My persistent prayer and plea to the Lord was that I would never do anything to make you ashamed to call me your pastor. Just as I was often snatched from the claws of ungodliness for fear of embarrassing or shaming my own son and my daughters and granddaughters and my grandson, I wanted to walk before you as spiri-

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tual father.

Then Paul paints an unusual picture of their relationship. Not only was he like a father, but in Galatians 4:19, he compares the relationship to one of a mother and her children. In Galatians 4:19, He says, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”

His focus is not so much on the picture of a mother but on the pain of labor. The word that he uses never refers to the physical moment of delivery; but the word highlights the accompanying anguish; the pain, the labor before the birth. He says I continue to have labor pains until Christ is formed in you.

It is not so much the labor pain of bringing forth the child, but it is the return of the pains of labor — continually — while and until Christ is formed in them…

Paul says I went through this once when you were born, but the goal is not just to be born, but to be born again; and when you are born again you are launched into a lifelong process of becoming like Jesus.

It’s a picture of the pain he goes through when he sees them struggling to mature in their faith and not just become like Jesus, but to let Jesus be formed in you. Not just act like Jesus, but let Jesus act through you. Not just love like Jesus, but let Jesus love through you. And even when you are abused, mistreated, broken hearted, and when you suffer, you are not just to treat them like Jesus, but let the resurrected Jesus rise up and bring you back. I go into labor pains because I know you are going to come through.

Finally, Paul tells us it is goodbye because he’s been like them. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7 “But we were gentle among as a nurse cherisheth her chil

Some versions say, “like a nursing her children”, but the construction of the sentence places the emphasis on the func tion of a nurse, tenderly caring for a child. Remember that Paul’s most common reference to himself is “servant”. When you put the servant picture with the nurse picture, you are reminded of the slaves who not only nursed the children of the master, but how they gently and sensi tively raised children that

continued to page 20

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for Kisha 19 L.A. Focus/March 2023
I Call 310.677.6011 Ask
Kenneth C. Ulmer’s final message as senior pastor
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. –2 Timothy 4:6—7

CalHFA continued from page 6

Previous beneficiaries of the program are now eligible for additional funds that could add up to $80,000 in total aid. Officials say the program is meant for those who have had trouble keeping up with housing payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding for the California Mortgage relief program comes from the Federal Government’s American Rescue Plan Act’s Homeowners Assistance Fund implemented in 2021, which allocated $1 billion for eligible homeowners across the country.

According to Hall, the program has distributed federal grants and funds to over 10,000 California homeowners.

Not only is applying to the program free, she says, homeowners do not have to worry about paying back the relief funds.

The program is provided to homeowners through the CalHFA Homeowner Relief Corporation. During the press conference held in the first week of Black History Month, Hall made a point to mention that those who tend to struggle with homeownership in California and the nation at large are Black.

"Black communities have been shut out of homeownership by a variety of factors including discriminatory housing practices which equates to less generational wealth," said Hall.

Homeownership is an incredibly important tool in building generational wealth, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Volma Volcy, Founder and Ex-

ecutive Director of the Ring of Democracy, said it is important to secure the prosperity of neighborhoods where residents are at risk for foreclosure.

"When a family is displaced, a whole community is destroyed," said Volcy.

Volcy also said that the California Mortgage Relief Program has been successful so far in providing aid for those in fear of losing their homes due to pandemic- related financial hardships.

Visit the California Mortgage Relief website to assess your eligibility and apply for the program.

Relief is expected sooner than later as natural gas prices have dropped significantly from the sky high rates on your most recent bills. In the meantime, SoCalGas recommends the following tips to reduce your natural gas bill:

was on duty the day of Malcolm X's death, wrote that he "participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own black people.

"Under the direction of my handlers, I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups to commit felonious acts," Wood wrote.

"We intend to have vigorous litigation of this matter, to have discovery, to be able to take depositions of the individuals who are still alive, 58 years later, to make sure that some measure of justice can be given to Malcolm X's daughters," Crump continued, adding, "The truth of what happened and who was involved has always been critical."

often mistreated and mishandled little white girl, she said: “You is kiiind. You is smaaart. You is impo-ent.” She reminded the little girl, no matter how mean the world gets, you is kind.

I tried to remind you that no matter what history the media and world may tell you, you are God’s child, filled with the Spirit of the Living God. No matter what that mean teacher or misguided school counselor, or false-friend-hater who said you can’t do this and you can’t do that — I say — “you is smaaaart”. And no matter who tried to put you down and tell you that you aren’t good enough, no matter who tried to kick you to the curb, smash your self-confidence, and shatter your dreams, I’m just like Aibileen and I shout it from the roof top — “you is impo-ent”

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were not their own biological offspring.

It is the picture of a servant nurse.

Family members involved in the action include four of his six daughters–Ilyasah, Qubilah, Gamilah and Malaak Shabazz – along with the daughter of a fifth daughter, Malikah Shabazz who died in 2021. Said Crump, "The rhetorical question is this: if the government compensated the two gentlemen that were wrongfully convicted for the assassination of Malcolm X with tens of millions of dollars, then what is to be the compensation for the daughters who suffered the most ” federal and New York government agencies, including the NYPD, FBI and CIA has long been contested," Crump said. "The governmental agencies had factual and exculpatory evidence that they fraudulently concealed from the family of Malcolm X and the men wrongly convicted of crimes surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X."

Three of Malcolm X’s daughters have pointed to a deathbed letter written by former police officer Raymond Wood on Jan. 25, 2011. In the letter, Wood, who

Over and over God has had to remind me: you are not my people, you are His people, I am just a steward, a “spiritual nurse”–kind of like Viola Davis’ [character] Aibileen in “The Help”.

She was a servant who took care of the master’s children. She was always gentle. In fact, when she taught the

In that last scene when Aibileen is about to leave, with tears in her eyes, she said: “I got’s to go now. But remember you is kind; you is smart; and you is important.” And she left that little girl in the hands of her mother.

When I arrived at the University of Illinois as a freshman, my parents helped me unpack and get settled in my room, and then it was time for them to go. My mother stood outside Hopkins Hall with tears in her eyes and said, “Well son, mama’s got to go now; but mama’s gonna leave you in the hands of the Lord.”

Well, Faithful Central Bible Church, its time. I’ve got to go, but I’m going to leave you in the hands of the Lord. His hands can hold you. His hands can keep you from falling. His hands can pick you up when you fall. His hands can lead you to victory.

Pulpit continued from page 19 Money Matters continued from page 11 Malcolm X Heirs continued from page 9


Chef Spotlight

Toba Garrett

Toba Garrett is one of the country’s foremost artists and educators in the field of cake decorating and design. She’s won more than a dozen international gold and silver medals and serves as Dean of professional cake decorating at the Institute of Culinary Education. She’s been featured on “The Today Show”, “Emeril Live” and her work has appeared in major magazines including In Style, Modern Bride, Gourmet, Woman’s Day, Chocolatier and American Cake Decorating.

land native, who opened her cake business in 1990. “I can remember my grandmother in the kitchen making a cake from scratch with a handful of this and a handful of that, a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon. There was no recipe, just her experience and memory of cooking and baking. We never had icing on the cake as it never seemed to require it. The cake was so delicious and yummy. I never forgot the experience of watching her creaming the butter and sugar and cracking eggs, right from the chicken.

In 2010, Garrett–who has authored a number of books including "The Well-Decorated Cake," "Professional Cake Decorating," "Master Class," "Creative Cookies," and "Wedding Cake Art and Design’–was named one of the 10 best cake artists in the U.S.

“I always had a love for baking,” says the Newport, Rhode Is-

“Later in life, I went to a Halloween party and saw a decorated cake that was made by my best friend. The cake was so delicious and so was the icing. These two memories inspired me to become a cake designer.

For more on Toba Garrett, visit tobagarrett.com.


2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter,cut into cubes and brought to room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Creamy White Frosting:

2 lb.bag of confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup softened butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350. Butter and line two, 8" pans with parchment rounds. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. On medium speed, mix butter until light colored and fluffy (this step is crucial). Slowly pour sugar in steady stream until combined and fluffy. In a separate small bowl, crack eggs. Add vanilla to eggs and on low speed, add one egg at a time to the mixing bowl, scraping the bowl in between with a spatula. In another small bowl, add the buttermilk. Add a third of the flour and mix into the mixing bowl, then a third of the buttermilk. Keep repeating and finish with the buttermilk. Remove bowl and mix by hand briefly with a spatula scraping sides and mixing thoroughly. Divide batter between pans and bake for about 40 minutes. Yield: 2-8 inch round cakes.

Frosting: After cake is completely cool, add all ingredients to a mixer bowl. Start the mixer on the lowest speed, then work up to medium-high to avoid a cloud of confectioners sugar! Mix until light and fluffy.

Cake Ever
The Best Birthday
21 L.A. Focus/March 2023


iola Davis couldn’t have been more gracious in her acceptance of the NAACP Image “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” Award for her work in “The Woman King”, calling it her magnum opus (translation: her greatest achievement).

Yet, despite it being an Oscar worthy performance– the kind that we have come to expect from Davis, because of the caliber of actress she is, and because of what she demands of herself–she and the film were snubbed by the Motion Picture Academy, receiving not one Oscar nomination.

Davis voiced her frustration speaking to a round table of filmmakers for The Hollywood Reporter in January. “Everything is a fight, and I’ll tell you the ultimate fight that goes up my a**. You have a film, The Woman King, based on the Agojie tribe, and it’s got to be test screened and it’s got to mean something to white males, white females, and Black males. It doesn’t matter if it’s reaching 98% of Black females.”

“So how do you reach the white male audience?” she continued. “And how do you make people feel like, if I can’t reach the white male audience, it doesn’t mean that the movie can’t have some commercial value?”

As it turns out, The Woman King has grossed $100 million worldwide and is one of Netflix’s top trending films. It not only earned four Critics Choice Award nominations, but also garnered best actress nods for Davis at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA Film Awards.

Fact is since she first stepped on stage in an offBroadway production of the William Shakespeare comedy, As You Like It to the 2006 role in “Doubt” that netted her first Oscar nomination (Best supporting actress); to her 2006 role in “The Help” bringing a second Oscar nomi nation in the same category; her six year stint on ABC’s hit drama, How to Get Away With Murder”, which made her the first Af rican-American to win the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series; to “Fences” opposite Denzel Washington in 2017, which finally earned her a best supporting actress Oscar; and most recently her portrayal of Nanisca in “The Woman King”–Viola Davis has not disappointed.

Just last month, with the Grammy she was awarded for narrating the au diobook of her bestselling memoir, Finding Me, Davis became only the 18th person in history to achieve EGOT status, having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award.

Quite a feat for the St. Matthews, South Carolina native who was born in a one room shack on a former plantation.

“Earlier in my career, I didn't have anything. I didn't have a profile, I did n't have any money and I didn't have

any choices. I’m in a profession that has a 95 percent unemployment rate with less than one percent of the profession makes $50,000 a year of more.”

Today, the 57-year old actress has seven films in the works–including an untitled Harriet Tubman project–and with her husband, Julius Tennon, owns and operates JuVee Productions, which has several projects in the works including the telling of the Bruce’s Beach story.

Praise aside, Davis–who received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame five years ago– treasures the journey.

“Living life for something bigger than yourself is a hero’s journey,” says Davis. That answer to your call, to adventure and journeying forth with mentors and allies, and facing your greatest fears, where you either die or your life as you know it will never be the same. And then you seize the sword, the insight, the treasure.”

Raised in what she has characterized as “abject poverty and dysfunction”, Davis’ parents struggled to make ends meet, often coming up short, leaving a young Viola to worry more about when her next meal would come than dream of becoming a star. On occasion, times were so hard Davis would have to eat from dumpsters or go without meals altogether while the family’s housing was often in condemned and or ratinfested dwellings.

She and her sister discovered a much-needed outlet through acting and would write and perform plays around the house at 8 or 9. Starting in youth programs she eventually studied acting at Rhode Island College before matriculating to the prestigious art school Julliard.

Davis received her Screen Actors Guild card in 1996 for doing one day of work, playing a nurse who passes a vial of blood to Timothy Hutton in the film The Substance of Fire and was nominated for her First Tony Award for her performance in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars just three years after graduating Julliard.

Finding success on Broadway, she received her first Tony Award in 2001 for King Headley II. Davis used her Broadway success as a launching point from which she embraced her unique ability to channel depth to her characters and began to take Hollywood by storm, her breakthrough role coming opposite Meryl Streep in “Doubt”. With just one scene in that movie, she earned both Golden Globe and Oscar nod for best supporting actress.

Just like that, she had arrived. Despite her suc-

cesses, Davis has always been keenly aware of how blessed she has been for the steady work that has come since.

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," she said during her acceptance speech in 2015. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

V Viola Davis

Her gives voice to a long held passion to let others know their value.

“I feel like when people don’t feel valued and they don’t feel like they matter there’s nothing but self-destruction and external destruction,” Davis observes. “That’s what comes out of it. You need to know that you have some investment in this world and some space in the world. My husband is always saying there are 400 families in this country that are billionaires and if they moved out we would be a third world country. That gives you an idea of the gulf between the haves and have nots. We gotta give voice to the voiceless.”

Her “a-ha” moment came when she was just nine.

“I remember my parents fighting in the middle of the night.,” she recalls. “It was so bad that I started screaming at the top of my lungs. My older sister Dianne told me to go in the house or people would hear me. I ran in the house. I ran to the bathroom, screaming still and got down on my knees and closed my eyes. I put my hands together and said, “GOD! If you exist, if you love me, you’ll take me away from this life! Now I’m going to count to 10 and when I open my eyes, I want to be gone! You hear me?!”

And I put my hands together and I was really believing it. “One!” And then I got to eight. “Nine! 10!” And I opened my eyes … and I was still there. But he left me right there so when I gained vision, and strength, and forgiveness, I could remember what it means to be a child who was hungry. I could remember what it means to be in trauma. I could remember poverty, alcoholism. I could remember what it means to be a child who dreams and sees no physical manifestation of it. I could remember because I lived it. I was there. And that has been my biggest gift in serving.

“You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself,” states the classically trained actress, whose first love is theater.

That humanity is what inspired Davis to serve as an ambassador for Hunger Is, helping the foundation raise millions of dollars to feed undernourished children and what moved her to narrate a documentary about diabetes called "A Touch of Sugar," which is part of Merck's America's Diabetes Challenge. She was diagnosed with pre-diabetes in 2016 and her family history is rife with Diabetes.

A practicing Christian, Davis–who has been married to husband Julius for 20 years and has a 16-year old daughter, Genesis–is thankful to God not only for her abundant blessings but for how people are positively affected by her work. She likes to quote the old saying about the two most important days of one’s life being the day they were born and the day one finds out why, believing that people are called to live a life greater than their own.

L.A. Focus /March 2023 22