Though the event honored three outstanding American heroes, who are African Americans, the true beneficiaries of the event were the young persons who were in attendance.
The Spirit of Peace Awards was celebrated Monday, February 23, at the California African American Museum (CAAM) honoring three outstanding African American male achievers while demonstrating to young people the value of service to the community. Stop-the-Violence-Increase-the-Peace Foundation and Amer-I-Can Foundation for Social Change hosted the event to showcase the works of John Mack, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. and Jim Brown, and young people from all walks of life were invited to partake in the celebration and to share the experience.
Khalid Shah, founder and executive director of Stop-the-Violence Foundation, was directly responsible for the success of the event and those who attended signified the importance and the relevance of the Peace awards. They included Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Assemblyman Mike Davis, Congresswoman Laura Richardson, Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, Bernie Casey, Norm Nixon, Robert Mc Neill, Jr., Charisse Bremond Weaver, Rev. Leonard Jackson, Curtis Owens and Tony McEwing, the master of ceremonies.
After Kim Anthony of Urban Leadership Communications welcomed the guests and introduced McEwing who asked Rev. Jackson to give the opening prayer. Then Mack's daughter, Andria showered her famous father with the kind of words only a daughter can utter. She was followed by Bakewell, Sr.'s son, Danny Jr. who echoed the same sentiments about his father like only a son can do, as so did Bremond-Weaver, who succeeded Bakewell, Sr. at the helm of the Brotherhood Crusade. Shah then thanked the guests asking for their continued support and described some of the organizations' work on behalf of young people before introducing Lt. Gov. Garamendi.
Two short films were shown that graphically elaborated on the violence that confronts both organizations constantly as they work constantly to stem the scourge of violence among young people in the community.
After the viewing, the guests were re-located to the spacious auditorium of the CAAM where the honorees were introduced to a large group of young people, Casey and Nixon gave moving testimonials of their experiences and long admiration for Jim Brown, as only fellow athletes could have done. And when Bakewell, Sr. mentioned his mother, Marybell, who was in the front row, next to his sister, Pamela, she was serenaded to a roomful of applause.
As a special guest, Nixon said, "I'm on the stage with three guys that I've revered for many, many years. These are grass-roots guys who have worked from the street up and this is a culmination of work they've been doing over the last few decades. So I'm just honored to be here with them."
He was followed by Casey who stated, "Today is an extraordinary day. I think it is fitting that we pay homage to these talented and able men. It is their moment, we benefit from being in their presence and it's a successful moment."
Then McEwing chimed in, "When my station asked me to do this, I was more than happy to do it. I was immediately agreeable to it because this is absolutely a phenomenal organization and these three honorees are men from whom I've patterned my own life. They have been my inspiration for many years since I came to Los Angeles in 1993. Talk about Danny Bakewell and John Mack whom I encountered as soon as I came to Los Angeles, and about Jim Brown - what can you say. These men have not only influenced my life but have influenced this country in ways I can't even put into words. I congratulate, I salute them, I honor them; they are what this country is all about."
Rev. Leonard Jackson commented, "I truly believe that we have to honor our heroes and sheroes while they are still living, and this is just the tip of the iceberg - it should happen each and every day. We should be able to look back and see what the "Danny Bakewells" of this world, the "Jim Browns" and the "John Macks" have done. We must continue to uplift them and honor their achievements because if they had not done what they've done for the community, we won't be here today."
And finally Shah, whose dynamic leadership was ever present throughout the event concluded, "I'm so honored to be here among these great leaders. All of them said exactly what I needed to hear about bringing unity to all these organizations because we can't do anything separated, we have to be together. So I am honored to be here especially among all these children." Shah's mother, Mrs. Watkins, who was also present, may have reflected on the same sentiments since she was there along with both of her sons: Na'im and Khalid.