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11th Annual Taste of Soul Food and Festival in L.A. Draws Packed Out Crowd

Angela Coggs

Angela Coggs

By Angela M. Coggs

On Saturday, October 15, 2016 over 350,000 residents converged on Crenshaw Boulevard for Los Angeles’ largest street festival and the largest gathering of African American Businesses in the country- Taste of Soul. Bakewell Media hosted the 11th Annual Taste of Soul Food and Family Festival 2016 from 10:00am to 7:00pm in Los Angeles, California. The event took place on Crenshaw Blvd. between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Rodeo.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator Isadore Hall III, and Taste of Soul Founder Danny Bakewell

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator Isadore Hall III, and Taste of Soul Founder Danny Bakewell

This year’s festival themed: “It’s A Family Affair” has become the 11th in what is now known as a destination event for all of not only the city of Los Angeles but Los Angeles County and surrounding communities. It was attended by over 350,000 men, women, students, children, celebrities and dignitaries from all over Southern California and across the United States, including a few residents from Riverside County.

“I had a great time. Everyone was so cool,” said LaToya Jones, teacher in the Riverside Unified School District for the past 15 years. This was her second time attending the Taste of Soul with her husband David. “I ABSOLUTELY loved Jazmine Sullivan’s performance. She is a true beauty with an incomparable voice and humble heart. The KJLH DJ had the crowd moving. The food was scrumptious. I can’t wait until next year.”

The event was a success. Free concerts took place on three major stages (KJLH, The Wave, and McDonalds). This year’s TOS was bigger and better than ever. With radio partners KJLH and 94.7 The Wave pulling together first class entertainment. KJLH featured contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. Hosted by KJLH radio personality DJ Mal-Ski. This year, KJLH 102.3 radio station celebrated TOS’s eleventh anniversary by bringing back some local talent and artists such as MAJOR, Guordan Banks, 112, Mike “Mike Philly” Phillips, and Jazmine Sullivan. The KJLH music stage was sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings.

94.7 The WAVE, whose music stage is sponsored by Budweiser this year, has been a media partner and radio sponsor with the Taste of Soul Festival since 2008.This year, the radio station took music lovers back to some of the greatest hits from artists including Chosen Recovery Gospel Group, On Tour, Tom Browne, Troop and War.

Mike Philly

Mike Philly

The gospel stage which in year two was only a small stage in front of the Sentinel offices, has now has grown to feature The McDonalds Gospel Fest on the Brenda Marsh Mitchell Gospel Stage. The 2016 Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour at Taste of Soul featured every genre within the gospel music industry: contemporary, traditional, inspirational, instrumental, hip-hop, and comedy. Hosted by syndicated radio personality Lonnie Hunter, attendees experienced

Jazmine Sullivan- Incomparable Vocalist

Jazmine Sullivan- Incomparable Vocalist

renowned gospel artists Donald Lawrence, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark-Sheard, Charles Jenkins, Jonathan McReynolds, Canton Jones, and Doug Williams. Also, acclaimed comedian, Small Fire provided entertainment for the entire family and community to enjoy.

There were various food and non-food vendors in attendance. Some of the notable food vendors included (African) Cocoa & Pitta Catering and Rafikiz Foodz, (American) Da Mudd Duck and Dipping Chicken, (BBQ) Big Mama’s Succulent & Savory BBQ, Bludso’s BBQ, Dulan’s, Gettch Grubb On, Not Your Mama’s Kitchen and Shabazz Good Food, (Creole & Jamaican) L.A. Jerk Shack and Smhokin Pot, and (Desserts & Treats) Sharon’s Heavenly Cobblers, Coco’s Lip Smacking Cupcakes, and Fun Time Kettle Corn.

There was plenty of love and no incidents were reported. This event has grown from having 35,000 in 2005 people in attendance during the first year to have over 350,000 in 2016. Over 350,000 African Americans gathered in the Black Community to celebrate, to share in a day of unity, love and togetherness.

Last year, Kamala Harris, currently California Attorney General now running for the United States Senate, attended the Taste of Soul in 2015. “It’s one of the most enjoyable things I do all year. Where else can you have all of the community turn out, family… it’s about love of community, supporting our local businesses. It is really one of the most important events in all of Los Angeles.”

It’s been called Los Angeles’s largest street festival for good reason. Thousands of attendees arrive every year to indulge in the “soulful.” From soul food to soul music, it’s hard not to have a great time. It’s a local gem that will be back again next year and the people are already looking forward to it.



11th Annual Taste of Soul Draws in Crowd of 300,000

LOS ANGELES, CA- On Saturday, October 15, the Los Angeles Sentential hosted its 11th Annual Taste of Soul event in Los Angeles off of Crenshaw Boulevard. This year there were over 300,000 attendees. Pictured is the Black Southern California McDonald’s Operators, whom were part of the sponsoring group for the Taste of Soul. From left to right they include: Kyle Webb, Patricia Williams, Reggie Webb, Lindsay Hughes, Nichole Enearu, Rene Webb, Kiana Webb, and Norman Carter.

The Smithsonian’s African American Museum is a “Living” Testament

By Eric Easter, Urban News Service

The just-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture is a work-in-progress — in every way. Surprisingly, this is its best asset.

In one way, that description is literal. On Media Day, less than 10 days before its grand opening, the museum’s grounds still were littered with the cigarette butts, snack bags and other leftovers from the hundreds of construction workers who put the final touches on the building.

museumInside, journalists scoured the space for stories to tell. They navigated around carts that carried pieces of exhibits yet to be nailed in and observed priceless objects amid handwritten signs whose installation instructions read “too tall” and “put nothing on top.”

Yet even with the museum finally open for business, it remains incomplete — by design. Six hundred years of African American history — and the culture that grew from centuries of struggle, pain and triumph — is too sweeping an epic to contain on a few floors. The only way to do so is to consider the museum not a permanent collection of  artifacts, but a living space that will evolve, shift, re-focus and re-invent itself — just  like the community it seeks to reflect.

The extraordinary effort to fund and build the new museum has overshadowed the even harder work performed by the museum’s curators. They gathered and edited the more-than-37,000-item collection into a coherent narrative.

The decision to start the museum’s story in pre-colonial, 15th-Century Africa involved an “intense” process, said Mary Elliott, curator of the museum’s history section. She consulted noted scholars including Ira Berlin, Eric Foner and Annette Gordon Reed to help set the necessary context for the full museum. But Elliott soon realized that a full reading of that time would be “too dense” for the average museum-goer.

“We needed to start with the reality of a free Africa and its position as a center of trade,” said Elliott. “But we wanted to go much deeper into the stories of the Italian role in financing the slave trade, as well as a more in-depth look at conditions in Europe that set the stage. But that’s a lot to ingest for the average museum-goer.”

The need to add some things and delete others at times was “heartbreaking.”

Those decisions, no doubt, will cause some to quibble about the tone, length or depth of some exhibits. And some criticisms will be fair. The displays on Reconstruction and the role of blacks in the military seem especially short given the importance of those themes.

But those arguments don’t account for the realities of a museum audience raised on Twitter, Wikipedia and TV on-demand. The tourist who tries to squeeze in all of Washington’s 17 Smithsonian museums in a few days will lack the capacity to absorb generations of pain and progress in one fell swoop. Return visits will be a must.

Still, those who want to go deeper will get that opportunity. The museum offers a full-time staff genealogist to help families discover their roots. Scholars can enjoy the museum’s research rooms. Public programming and temporary exhibits will let curators breathe more life into subject matter and explore contemporary themes and issues via multimedia and assorted technologies.

As a full body of work, the museum is a treasure. Its existence tells a story and stands as a tribute to a culture that has triumphed amid adversity. The displays simply accentuate that idea through stories that are tragic, critical, objective and, ultimately, celebratory. It is a museum about American possibility, as told through the story of a people whose American-ness too often has been denied and questioned. This museum should end such doubts.

What visitors will experience is best exemplified in a moment that occurred during one of many pre-opening receptions.

Speaking at an event hosted by Google, former Rep. Susan Molinari (R – New York), who is white, shared her experience at the museum. She fought through tears as she recalled one section that particularly resonated with her. The mostly black audience reacted politely. Many of them later said that, because of their own families’ legacies, they might have reacted differently to the same moment.

That may be what happens to everyone who passes through the museum’s doors. What one sees and experiences will be very different — depending on the history, knowledge and perspective that one carries through the entrance. That, in the end, is the true power of the place.