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Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Officials to HonorThelma Houston and The Whispers for African American Heritage Month

Posted on 02/02/2022
AAHM flyer for opening ceremonies 2022

Mayor Eric Garcetti, Board of Public Works Commissioner Mike Davis, and Our Authors Study Club will honor recording artists Thelma Houston and The Whispers with the Living Legend Award at the City of Los Angeles 2022 African American Heritage Month celebration. CeCe Winans will perform.

Thelma Houston
A Mississippi native, Thelma started out in the 60's performing in gospel music with the Art Reynolds Singers. She then signed to Capitol Records (home of the Beatles, Nat King Cole and Nancy Wilson) in 1967 and had her first hit song called "Baby Mine." Soon Thelma was courted by several record labels and signed with ABC/Dunhill where she recorded and released her first solo album called "Sunshower" which was written, arranged and produced by the legendary Jimmy Webb. After this critically acclaimed album was released, Thelma decided to accept an offer from one of the biggest record companies around, Motown Records.

With Motown Records, Thelma claimed the top of the Pop, R&B and Dance charts with her high-powered rendition of "Don't Leave Me This Way." That Gold Record classic gave Thelma the distinction of being the first solo female artist at Motown to win the Grammy Award for "Best R&B Female Vocal Performance."

Known as a humanitarian for her charitable causes and her tireless efforts in the battle against AIDS, the City of West Hollywood proclaimed January 29th as "Thelma Houston Day" in 2003. She has donated her talents to numerous charities including Devine Design for Project Angel Food, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and the Minority AIDS Project, to which she donated her $20,000 winnings from the TV show Hit Me Baby. She is also very active in the Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch of the NAACP.

Thelma has rocked Rockefeller Center on NBC's The Today Show and the summer music special "Hit Me Baby, One More Time."  She dazzled in ABC's Motown 45 and glittered on ABC's The Disco Ball. Along with Aretha Franklin and Mary Wilson, she raised the roof on Love, Rhythm and Blues for PBS. Thelma appeared with Phoebe Snow, Chaka Khan, Mavis Staples and CeCe Peniston as the "Sisters of Glory" in New York City in a rousing performance that received a special request to perform at The Vatican for The Pope.

The Whispers
One of R&B music's most beloved and consistently popular vocal groups, The Whispers, began their legendary and timeless career in 1963. Twin brothers Walter and Wallace Scott joined with friends Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson, and Gordy Harmon to form a local singing group. They perfected their tight harmonies on the street corners in the Watts section of Los Angeles and in nightclubs in the in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area.

They began singing together as "the Eden trio" created by Nicholas Caldwell and Marcus Hutson. Later, they were renamed "The Whispers" by Lou Bedell of Dore Records. The group recorded nine singles for the Dore label between 1964 and 1967. Their fame grew in the Bay Area while performing in a series of what was known as "The Battle of the Bands" where they competed against other local acts for their fans appreciation and affection. In 1969 they released "The Time Will Come" for a small L.A. based label Soul Clock Records, and subsequently recorded their first Top 10 R&B hit, "Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong," in 1970 when the group switched to Janus Records. By 1971 Gordy Harmon decided to leave the group and was replaced by Leaveil Degree who had previously sung with "The Friends of Distinction".

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Four Decades of Pop and R & B Favorites, Seven Gold Albums, Two Platinum Albums, 12 Top Twenty Singles, 40 Charted Hits Since 1970, American Music Award Nominees, Soul Train Award Nominees, Grammy Award Nominees 2003 Vocal Group Hall of Fame Inductees, 2005 Regional Grammy Governors Award, 2002 NAACP Image Award

The City Council program will also feature the induction of three Hall of Fame recipients who have gained national acclaim in the fields of Government, Health and Law.

Honorable Dr. Shirley N. Weber, Secretary of State, California
Shirley Nash Weber, Ph.D. was nominated to serve as California Secretary of State by Governor Gavin Newsom on December 22, 2020 and sworn into office on January 29, 2021. She is California’s first Black Secretary of State and only the fifth African American to serve as a state constitutional officer in California’s 170-year history.

Weber was born to sharecroppers in Hope, Arkansas during the segregationist Jim Crow era. Her father, who left Arkansas after being threatened by a lynch mob, did not have the opportunity to vote until he was in his 30s. Her grandfather never voted as custom and law in the South, before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, systemically suppressed voting by Blacks. Although her family moved to California when Weber was three years old, it was her family’s experience in the Jim Crow South that has driven her activism and legislative work. She has fought to secure and expand civil rights for all Californians, including restoring voting rights for individuals who have completed their prison term. 

Weber attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she received her BA, MA and PhD by the age of 26. Prior to receiving her doctorate, she became a professor at San Diego State University (SDSU) at the age of 23. She also taught at California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) and Los Angeles City College before coming to SDSU. She retired from the Department of Africana Studies after 40 years as a faculty member and serving several terms as department chair.

Before her appointment, Secretary Weber served four terms as an Assembly Member representing California's 79th Assembly District, which includes parts of the City of San Diego as well as several cities and communities in the San Diego region.  Weber also served as a member and chair of the San Diego Unified School District and has twice served as a California Elector, including chairing the California College of Presidential Electors on December 14, 2020.

Dr. John Griffith, President/CEO, Kedren Health Center
Dr. Griffith attended school in England, graduating from the University of Sheffield, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, and completing his Ph.D. at the esteemed University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry. He began his career at Kedren in 1981, serving as the Chief Operating Officer-Mental Health Services, until 2002, when he became the President/CEO.

During his tenure with the agency, there have been many changes in the landscape of the community, and the myriad of needs to its residents. Dr. Griffith has presided over Kedren providing a continuum of health services, primarily to residents in Service Area 6.

As part of our evolutionary process, in 2013, Dr. Griffith was instrumental in Kedren launching its Primary Care Clinic, a designated Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).

Dr. Griffith is embarking on developing collaborative partnerships with primary care health providers, physicians, pediatricians, dietitians, and other practitioners, to offer educational, wellness and recovery services. This endeavor is part of Kedren’s mission to provide medical, and behavioral health services to underserved and uninsured persons in South Los Angeles.
Through Dr. Griffith’s continuing leadership in July 2018, Kedren and Charles Drew University embarked upon an academic and community health collaboration with the students enrolled in their Graduate Medical Education program. These students are part of Charles Drew’s Residency Program and consistent with Kedren’s mission to serve under-served urban communities.

Dr. Griffiths’ ongoing plans for the growth and development of Kedren include integrating programs that focus on early intervention and prevention, serving children from birth to older adults, with a strengths-based, family-focused model to enrich the lives of those we serve, planting the seeds of physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth, and overall wellness.

Honorable Eric C. Taylor, Presiding Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court
Assistant Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor, Superior Court of Los Angeles County, is appointed to a voting position through September 14, 2020. Judge Taylor has served the Los Angeles Superior and Municipal Courts for 21 years. He was sworn in as a Municipal Court judge in 1998, and the Superior Court in 2000, serving as a Los Angeles District Supervising Judge from 2003-2004 and from 2016-2018.  He was elected Assistant Presiding Judge in 2018.

Through his career, Judge Taylor has served on numerous LA Superior Court Committees, including the Legislative, Grand Jury, Family Law, Security, Bench/Bar, and Compensation and Benefits Committee (serving as vice-chair). He also served a term on the Judicial Council’s Access and Fairness Committee and was appointed to the Judicial College Steering Committee for two years.

Judge Taylor previously served two separate one-year terms on the Judicial Council in 2003-2004 and 2015-2016 in an advisory position as the only judge elected twice to serve as President of the California Judges Association.

African American Heritage Month Opening Ceremonies
Webinar ID: 161 051 7666
Passcode: 996560

Other City of Los Angeles African American Heritage Month activities:

African American Heritage Month Round Table Discussion

"Black Health and Wellness"
Thursday, February 3rd, 2022 6:00 PM
Meeting ID: 160 371 8617
Passcode: 528716

Marc Brown, Co-Anchor, ABC7 Eyewitness News
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Chair, Africana Studies, CSULB
Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Dean, College of Ethnic Studies, CSULA
Dr. Donna Nicole, Chair, Africana Studies, CSDH
Dr. Boris Ricks, Director, Center for Southern California Studies, CSUN
Dr. Francille Rusan Wilson, History, American and Woman Studies, USC

Black History Month Worship Service
Sunday, February 13
2022, from 10;00am to 12;00 noon
2270 Harvard Boulevard,Los Angeles, California.  
An Annual Update from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Link to service from:

An Evening With African American Authors
Tuesday, February 22, 2022 6:00 PM
Meeting ID: 161 903 3411
Passcode: 826835

Kimberley Baker Guillemet, Black Prep: Life Lessons of A Perpetual Outsider
Renee Danielle Flager, Society Wives
Dr. La-Doris McClaney, God, I Listened Too
Wanda M. Morris, All Her Little Secrets

Build with Construction Matchmaking
Construction Networking Expo
Thursday, February 24th, 2022

Register to participate in the 8th Annual BuildWith Construction Networking Expo brought to you
by Mayor Eric Garcetti's Office of Budget & Innovation and Office of Economic Development, the
Board of Public Works and the Bureau of Contract Administration.

BuildWith provides the opportunity for diverse construction-related businesses to make
connections with prime contractors, City Departments, public agencies and business resources.

Register at
African American Heritage Month Closing Ceremonies
Thursday, February 24th, 2022 6:00 PM
Meeting ID: 160 972 5447
Passcode: 259284