Winners include Danny Bakewell Jr., Wilma Pinder, Lloyd McKinney Jr., Diamond Saweetie Harper and Jaya Hinton
Danny J. Bakewell, Jr. received the Emé Visionary Award at the 46th Annual Fellowship, sponsored by the USC Black Alumni Association (BAA).
Held on April 14 at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, Bakewell joined Wilma Pinder, Lloyd T. McKinney Jr., Diamond Saweetie Harper and Jaya Hinton in congratulating them on their professional achievements and contributions to the BAA.
As executive vice president of The Bakewell Company, Bakewell Jr. oversees key components of one of the most successful private African American real estate development companies in the country. Founded by Bakewell Company Chairman Danny J. Bakewell Sr., the company has built, owned and operated more than four million square feet of commercial, industrial and residential property throughout California.
Bakewell, Jr. is also one of Bakewell Media’s top performers, owners of LA Sentinel and LA Watts Times, as well as Taste of Soul, the country’s largest street festival and major economic generator for business in South Los Angeles and Black. More than three million people have visited TOS since its launch in 2007.
“Let me congratulate USC President Carol Folt and BAA Director Daniel Harvey. Your commitment to building a better and more inclusive USC has not gone unnoticed. I want to thank all the BAA staff for this amazing night and everything you are doing to improve our community, “said Bakewell Jr., who has been on the BAA Board of Directors for the past 10 years.
Recognizing other members of the BAA board, Bakewell praised former and current directors, including Assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer, William Bill Holland, Eric Holoman, Rafael Henderson, Cynthia Hurd and Dr. Michelle Turner.
“Receiving this Emé Visionary Award is much greater than I have ever dreamed of. To be considered in the same category as previous winners such as Forrest Whitaker, Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray, Sandra Evers-Manley, Irwin “Magic” Johnson, Linda Johnson Rice – all these great people and be part of this group it’s really an honor and I thank everyone here for giving me this award. “
In his speeches, Baekwell describes himself as a child of “a strong and powerful village … of warriors, love, strength and determination that made me a better person.” Recalling how he took advantage of the upbringing and care of his “village,” he laughed, adding that in some cases his village “threw me to the lions.”
But to the surprise of many, he said the action was in fact a demonstration of the faith his “village” has in his ability to survive. As a result, he became more resilient and better equipped to contribute to the “village.”
“The fact that the village believes you can defeat the lion not only makes the village stronger, but also makes the village safer because of the power you have discovered,” Bakewell insisted. “So, I accept this award on behalf of my entire village.”
Listing the people in his “village,” he singled out Charis and George Weaver, Heather and Ingrid Hutt, members of Jones-Sawyer, Kappa Alpha Psi and Sentinel staff. He also mentioned his aunt Pamela Bakewell, cousin Brandon Brooks and sisters Mitchell – Tamela, Pamela and Tracy.
“For my sister Brandi, our trip continues to be amazing. You always say how much you learned from me, but the truth is that you taught me so much more. “Because of you, I’m a better person,” he said.
Comparing compliments to his children – Taylor, Danny III, Devin and Bryce – Bakewell said with a wide smile: “How blessed I am to be your father! You are my inspiration. You are each individually and together the greatest thing I have ever done. I love you with all my heart! I admire your brilliance, your compassion, and the amazing things you do. ”
He continued to express his deep feelings for his partner in life, Christina Smith, whom he called “the love of my life.” Explaining the depth of his affection, Bakewell said, “You really are my strength when I feel like lions are winning. You are smart, you are beautiful and you know how to deal with me when I am in the mood. You make me laugh even when you’re dead serious. “
Amid applause and applause from his recitations, he praised his parents, Alin and Danny Bakewell Sr., calling them “the two most loving and beautiful people in my life.”
“Everything I am is for you,” Bakewell Jr. said. “You taught me life, forgiveness, determination, responsibility and most of all, you taught me love. Being able to share this moment with both of you is truly a blessing.
“You taught me to be a proud black man and to work for our family, our community and our people. I am grateful for you every day and no words can really show how much I love you both! ”
At the end of her speech, Bakewell encouraged the audience to remember the BAA’s mission to “improve the lives and experiences of black USC students” by remaining diligent and committed to helping them achieve far beyond what they once dreamed they could to achieve. “
Former Los Angeles City Attorney Wilma Pinder, winner of the BAA Kilgore Service Award, shared similar remarks during her presentation. She said: “It is a great honor for me to be here with everyone. When I went to USC, there were a few black students on campus. But today, African Americans are not only USC students, but also scientists, administrators and professors, and whatever other damn thing you want to be!
Referring to popular singing on campus, Pinder said: “We, as human beings, really know how to fight! USC was my launch pad. “
After earning a bachelor’s degree from USC, she received a master’s degree from Howard University and a doctorate in law from UCLA’s Faculty of Law. She worked for 30 years in the prosecutor’s office before retiring. However, she remains active with the BAA and has traveled abroad three times with the organization.
McKinney received the BAA Outstanding Alumni Award. Executive Director at Northrop Grumman, he is the senior manager of the global supply chain for the corporation’s mission systems sector.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I was chosen to receive this award,” McKinney said, expressing his gratitude to the BAA. “But I did not make my own achievements. I would like to thank my mother, my amazing daughter and many other friends for their support and love.
“I will continue to work with BAA at a higher level. If my work can change the meaning, so can yours. “I will continue to recruit and support the retention and graduation of black students,” McKinney promised.
Harper, a USC graduate in 2016, was awarded the Young Alumna Award. Although he was unable to attend, the popular record label was hailed for his involvement in BAA activities along with his success in the entertainment industry. In addition to top EPs and double platinum hits, Harper has been praised for her sensible business skills, which include a jewelry line and partnerships with Revlon and Quay.
The Outstanding Scientist Award went to Jaya Hinton, a 2022 graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business. Active in the BAA during her college years, Hinton was also co-executive director of the Black Student Assembly and helped select the first USC chief executive officer for inclusion and diversity.
“When I first started college, I was pre-treated and when I wanted to explore other options, the BAA helped me and the leaders introduced me to others who could help my career,” Hinton said.
Mark A. Brown, KABC news anchor, hosted the banquet, and Kenny Latimore provided musical entertainment. The program also included a call from the Rev. Dr. Najuma Smith-Pollard and remarks from Harvey, who is also the USC’s Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations; Kyle Webb, interim chairman of the USC Alumni Advisory Board; and Donald Dean, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee.
The BAA was founded in 1976 by the Rev. Thomas Kilgore Jr. to strengthen the legacy of the educational achievements and excellence of black USC students. The organization provides assistance for scholarships, career guidance and cultural advocacy through a network of alumni, volunteer participation, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.
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