Black History in LA webcast

The Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) have teamed up to present on February 8, 2013 a free interactive webcast with civic leaders who will share insight on Black History in LA. The “There is Black History in LA” webcast will take place from 1:30pm – 2:30pm PT and will feature new LAUL CEO and President Nolan V. Rollins, Reverend Cecil “Chip” Murray and community activists “Sweet Alice” Harris and John W. Mack.
The webcast (which can be accessed at offers an opportunity for the LA community to interact with the aforementioned individuals and host Josefa Salinas of KTLK am 1150 and HOT 92.3, and learn more about the history of civil rights in LA. It builds on an exhibit – “The 90 That Built LA” – at the Museum of African American Art (MAAA which opened on December 12, 2012 and celebrated LAUL’s 91 years of existence by honoring 90 individuals who have fought for civil rights and equality. In addition to the webcast and other Black History Month events (see Facebook post), LAUL will co-present a panel featuring USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Dean Ernest J. Wilson III, Mack and USC Dornsife African Studies Director Francille Rusan Wilson, who will discuss the PBS special “The PowerBroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights” after it is screened at the USC Annenberg Auditorium on February 11. (

LAUL VP of Marketing & Communications Chris Strudwick-Turner said her team had the vision for the exhibit, which features the tagline “We Built LA” to assert the contributions of Blacks and other minorities to LA’s development, several years ago and was able to turn it into reality thanks to TWC. “Like us, they saw the vision of what this exhibit could be and they have been with us every step of the way as a presenting sponsor to put this exhibit together for the community,” said Strudwick-Turner in a December statement to the press.
Members of the TWC Diversity and Inclusion team recently visited the exhibit–located near Leimert Park at the MAAA’s space at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall’s Macy’s third floor–on February 1, 2013 to commemorate 15 months of partnership between LAUL and TWC and promote the aforementioned webcast. TWC Regional VP of Operations Debi Picciolo said in a press statement her company was “proud of our long term partnership with the Los Angeles Urban League, and delighted we could help bring this exhibit to the community.”

One of the most notable aspects of the webcast and exhibit is the rare opportunity for young people in LA to delve deep into Black history in the city thanks to the presence of individuals like Reverend Chip Murray. Murray, who grew up in the South during segregation and whose insight on civil rights movement like the 1992 LA uprising was featured in a 2012 Intersections South LA story (, will answer questions from webcast attendees and discuss the struggle that made equality possible. Murray and his fellow panelists plan to highlight trailblazers from the distant past such as Biddy Mason–a slave that walked several hundreds of miles to LA to gain her freedom–in addition to former LA Mayor Tom Bradley, who made history in LA as the first Black mayor of a major American city.
imageAngelenos can discover historic art and photos commemorating LA trailblazers in fields such as cinema, civil rights, music and media; Sir Sidney Poitier, Cesar Chavez, Ella Fitzgerald and Paula Madison, respectively, at “The 90 that Built LA” exhibit through March 7, 2013.

Elias Kamal Jabbe is the Founding Editor of (

South LA hero encourages civic engagement in the face of adversity

Men of faith: Reverend Mark Whitlock, Dr. Varun Soni and Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray prepare to speak at the “Twice Tested by Fire” reception at the USC Doheny Memorial Library. Photo: Alec Faulkner

Members of the Los Angeles community gathered at the University of Southern California Doheny Memorial Library on October 2nd to listen to veteran community leader Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray discuss struggles faced by humanity and the efforts needed to overcome them. USC staff and faculty, congregation members of Dr. Murray’s First African Methodist Episcopal (F.A.M.E.) Church in South LA and other guests listened to the retired pastor and current USC Religion & Civic Culture faculty member reflect on the history of his own life and the United States as a whole while celebrating the publication of his 2012 autobiography “Twice Tested By Fire.”

Faith under fire

Dr. Murray has been known as a hero in the Los Angeles community for decades and has a name that has been attached to many titles and awards, but USC President Dr. Max Nikias stressed that “these titles don’t tell the whole story.” After being introduced by Dr. Nikias and USC Dean of Religious Life Dr. Varun Soni, who pointed out that October 2 was also the birthday of legendary Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Murray deflected the praise and attention he received and pointed out that his struggle is part of a larger human struggle.

“Understanding (that) we are family is the challenge of the 21st century. The pain is not going to go away. The fire is not going to go away. The truth is we are not saved from the fire: we are saved in the midst of the fire,” said Dr. Murray in an analogy to his near-death experience which occurred when his Air Force jet caught on fire in 1957.

Community Catalyst: Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray receives a proclamation in honor of his community service and 83rd birthday from City of Los Angeles Community Services Officer Josefina Salvador on behalf of LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Photo: Alec Faulkner

The next step

Despite being praised by members of the USC community and being recognized with a proclamation from the City of Los Angeles for his efforts thus far, Dr. Murray refused to focus on his awards and instead chose to discuss the dire need for social justice for South Los Angeles and other underserved communities around the world.

“All of us are constantly tested by fire. Half of the people of the world live on less than two dollars a day. We have a long way to go. Seeing that we are family, we will get there. But our chauffeur will be necessity,” said Dr. Murray, who added that all humans are “kin under the skin.”

History lesson

While also focusing on the future, Dr. Murray referenced the 1992 riots that swept across South LA and other underserved communities in Southern California and pointed out the set of root causes first highlighted by Dr. Martin Luther King.


“Poverty, racism and war were the combination that caused not only the 1992 riots, but the 1965 riots in Los Angeles as well. The poverty rate in underserved black communities is double the national rate,” said Dr. Murray, who recently celebrated his 83rd birthday and was inspired by the 1992 riots to create social justice for communities of color.

Civic engagement within South LA, which has been spurred by organizations such as Community Coalition South Los Angeles, was highlighted as a key component of the solution to social ills during the final moments of Dr. Murray’s speech.

“We have enough resources to change our neighborhoods. We have an obligation to rise to the occasion,” said. Dr. Murray.

“If we don’t do it, who will?”

This event was hosted by USC Spectrum.

Elias Kamal Jabbe is the Founding Editor of