Los Angeles Urban League to honor Villaraigosa, others

imageAs Black History Month draws to a close, one group in South Los Angeles is just starting a celebration of the future of African Americans.

At a private event kick-off to be held Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Urban League will announce four community leaders who will be honored as “Enduring Legacies” for their contribution to African Americans and other minority groups in Los Angeles.

“Months like Black History Month are really important to preserve heritage as we come together in a melting pot society,” said Dannete Wilkerson, event director for the LAUL. “The freedom we have in America is very extensive … but there are still some imbalances that we need to pay attention to.”

The Urban League aims to honor individuals that it feels give proper focus to those imbalances.

This year’s honorees include Virgil Roberts, an entertainment lawyer and education advocate, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Robert Billingslea, corporate director of urban affairs at Walt Disney Co., and Luis Lainer, co-founder of Bet Tzedek, a nonprofit organization offering legal services to low-income people.

“Each of them are being honored to signify that they stand for the epitome of what we try to do at the league,” Wilkerson said. “They represent community leadership and continued effort in honoring the culture and community of the groups they represent.”

Whitney M. Young (far left) during a civil rights march in D.C.

The recognitions will be formally handed out at an annual celebration on April 25, honoring Whitney M. Young, Jr., an American civil-rights activist who played a large role in the foundation of the Los Angeles Urban League.

“(Young) really leveled the playing field for African Americans in Los Angeles,” Wilkerson said. “We try to honor people who share the same spirit and hope for equality.”

The LAUL will also be announcing an exhibit honoring 90 different organizations and community leaders in Los Angeles that have impacted the African American community, called “The 90 That Built LA.”

The exhibit will be held at the Museum of African American Art located on the third floor of the Macy’s department store at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and will open in the fall.

“The African American community, and these organizations in particular, have made significant contributions to the city of Los Angeles and we want to honor that,” Wilkerson said.

The 90 exhibit subjects were selected by the league and voted on by community members. They will be announced during the summer.