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Mayor Villaraigosa Allegedly Snubs Black Leaders

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Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 3:51 PM

click to enlarge Rev. Eric P. Lee.
  • Rev. Eric P. Lee.
Earlier this month we had a little chuckle over Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's slippage into a form of black-speak during a ceremony kicking off L.A.'s African-American Heritage Month. Mayor V. jived it up and called Jamie Foxx "this brother." Well, it turns out some African-American leaders were offended -- not by Villaraigosa's brother-talk, but rather by his alleged snubbing of certain black leaders.

In a letter sent to the mayor last week (and obtained by the Weekly Tuesday), Southern Christian Leadership Conference CEO Eric P. Lee (and nine other signatories, including the Rev. Danny Bakewell) chastised Villaraigosa for what he describes as unequal treatment and a snubbing of Bakewell who, Rev. Lee writes, helped get Foxx to show up when the mayor's staff couldn't not confirm the star's appearance.

"The sense of disrespect and disregard for individuals and organizations that represent the very reason why we celebrate our history is inexcusable," Lee writes.

He says the mayor's staff resisted a request by community leaders to include African drummers until it was reminded that a similar, Aztec troupe was allowed to perform during a city ceremony recognizing Latino Heritage Month. The letter signatories also complain that the food spread was inferior compared to that at the Latino celebration.

They say that African-American members of the council -- Bernard Parks and Jan Perry; Herb Wesson excepted -- were excluded from planning the event, and that Bakewell was excluded from a reception for the festivities -- and then he was outright snubbed by the mayor:

"Adding insult to injury, when you and the honorees finally exited the reception through the corridor, you Mayor, looked directly at Danny Bakewell, Jr., SCLC Board Chairman and City Employee Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. and myself without one word of greeting or hint of acknowledgment," Lee writes.

Finally, the letter faults the mayor for essentially calling in sick for an official celebration of the month's kick-off at Brookins AME Church and then showing at the Grammy Awards the same day.

" ... the overwhelming perception from the African American community is that your relationship with individuals and organizations in our community is based solely on how it benefits your agenda," writes Lee. "If this is not the case, it is critical for you to change this perception, our reality, into a relationship that is mutually beneficial for the community that was instrumental in your election as Mayor of the City of Los Angeles."

[First reported by LAObserved].

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