LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Mayor Karen Bass Tuesday joined Los Angeles City Council members in observing Africa Day, which commemorates the founding of the African Union, an organization representing the continent and its population of 1.2 billion people.
Councilman Curren Price led Tuesday's presentation and said the objective of the African Union is to highlight the collective "African resistance to colonialism and economic exploitation."
City officials also recognized LA-based entrepreneurs who promote African culture and influence, and make it part of their mission to give back to Africa and the city.
"As we know, Africans have been displaced throughout the globe, and many of us are descendants who may or may not be able to trace our heritage, but that does not hinder us from honoring the continent and the African diaspora," Price said.
Bass talked about the history of Africa Day, which was first celebrated in 1963. At that time, there were only 30 independent African nations, whereas now there are 54, the mayor noted.
"There was a large movement in the United States, celebrating the independence of nations, but also some fighting to change U.S. policy," Bass said. "I think, it's most famously known as the anti-apartheid movement."
The mayor explained that South African leaders came to the U.S. south to understand the Jim Crow system — then went back and set up apartheid.
Bass said the City Council played an important role during that time to divest from doing any business related to South Africa — led by then- Councilman Robert Farrell, and Rep. Maxine Waters, the Los Angeles Democrat who was then an assemblywoman in 1976.
"This movement caught fire around the country and around the world," Bass said. "It actually led to one of the many reasons why the U.S. changed its policy and decided to divest and impose sanctions on the country of South Africa."
Bass expressed her delight in joining the City Council in honoring leaders from the African diaspora.
"Los Angeles has so many strong and diverse African communities and our honorees here today represent their creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit," Bass said.
Councilwoman Heather Hutt added she was happy that "we're at this place, today, where people are fighting for togetherness."
"We're celebrating something I remember as a child because my mom worked for Robert Farrell, and it was a big controversy to wear a dashiki into the chambers and to really bring the diaspora together," Hutt said. "I also remember when (former South Africa President Nelson) Mandela came here, and he really talked about the apartheid. He really talked about the continent and the connectivity."