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Reverend Al Sharpton's 60th Birthday And NAN African American Vanguard Awards

Jillian Baker |
October 16, 2014 | 11:26 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Ferguson, Ebola, representation, police brutality and social justice were only a few of the topics talked about when black leaders of the Los Angeles community came together this past Thursday night at the California African American Museum. 

Prominent African American change-makers from various professional backgrounds attended the 60th birthday celebration of Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN) African American Vanguard Awards – an award ceremony dedicated to honoring African Americans that have made an impact on the city of Los Angeles and beyond.

Jerome Ro Brooks, an actor on OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” couldn’t contain his excitement for the event. “It’s huge having an event where we’re celebrating our accomplishments. I’m almost at a loss of words. These are moments that you live for. We’ve come so far. 

Reality star, Sundy Carter (“Basketball Wives LA”) shared Brooks’ sentiments. “It feels really good just to be a part of such positivity in our culture. When I see all of these beautiful African American people and we’re all in one place – it’s such a great thing.”

Of course where there’s reality television, there is talk about the representation of African Americans in these shows. “Hollywood Exes” star Percy Souder didn’t shy away from talking about it. “I think we’re represented badly. If you watch a lot of reality TV, you would believe that all black people are drama. All black people aren’t fighting in the club…all of us aren’t poppin’ bottles. We’re real people. I think the media sometimes dwells on the negative because of ratings. It’s unfortunate but it’s true.” 

Another main theme of the night was young people’s involvement in the fight for social justice and equality. California Senator, Holly J. Mitchell, assured that young people were needed in the fight for change. “I believe in activism, period. Digital activism is working for your generation. That’s how you connect and we’ve certainly seen evidence of digital activism working on an international level.” 

The African American Vanguard Awards was put on by Lord, Bush and Randolph, LLC in partnership with the National Action Network – founded by activist Sharpton.

“The Reverend Al Sharpton is on the forefront of civil rights and does so much for his community. Whenever there is an issue or something has taken place that has adverse effects on us, he’s there and his organizations are there,” says Brett C.S. Roberts, one of the event’s honorees.

Brooks also praised the influential activist. “He fights for the Mike Browns, the Trayvon Martins, and the ones that you don’t even hear about.”

The event wouldn’t have been complete without the guest of honor himself. Even at his birthday celebration, Reverend Al Sharpton addressed the big issues. 

On the Ebola virus, he stated, “It’s disappointing when you see two nurses having to be thrown out of Dallas. Where was the preparation, where was the training and why did we neglect for so long the pending urgency of the matter? Was it because it was in West Africa? We ignored it because it was a West African problem, now it’s a global problem. You cannot have a global village, but only be concerned about one part of the globe.”

On voting rights, he stated, “When you see the things that they’re doing with Voter ID, we see them constantly chipping away at our voting rights. This is a vital election; I’m on the road night and day trying to get people to vote."

On Ferguson, he stated, "Police accountability is a major civil rights issue. I’m going to stay on the Michael Brown case until we get justice."

In all, it was a night to remember.

Reach Staff Reporter Jillian Baker here



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