The Year-End Gratitude List

Sentinel Published, Written by Brian W. Carter (Staff Writer)

As we begin a new year, 2011, The League of Allied Arts, a seventy year old African-American women’s’ arts organization, is grateful for:

  • Its longevity as we extend kudos to president, Deborah Beavers Watford, who had the foresight to move us forward with new members and a stellar Seventieth Anniversary celebration and fundraiser.
  • The successful Seventieth fundraiser featured an evening at the Geffen to view Thurgood with Laurence Fishburne. The event, a play and reception, was well attended by many area League supporters. The event’s most important aspect was Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas’ sponsorship of tickets and transportation for 100 Los Angeles 2nd District high school students who often are not privileged to view theater performances. The students attended a series of summer workshops conducted by the Langston Bar Association prior to the play.

Next important aspect was awarding sustaining scholarships to four previous undergraduate winners now working on master degrees. Those honored are Danielle Bowman, with a 3.5 at Cooper Union, Gabrielle McClinton with a 3.7 at Carnegie Mellon, Phylicia Saunders with a 3.5 at Princeton University, and Kristopher Bowers with a 3.8 at Julliard. The fifth scholarship was the Dorothy Vena Johnson Scholarship new winner Shaquida Alexis with a 3.0 at Cypress College.

  • The connection to the UCLA Archives Department, arranged by League member Susan Anderson. The League has allotted space for all League historical documents dating from 1939 when the organization was founded. Noted author Langston Hughes could not locate a place to perform his works due to the prejudices in the United States. Knowing the need for artists to perform, friends Dorothy Vena Johnson and Juanita Miller pooled their resources and created a theater space on Central Avenue. That support allowed Langston Hughes to present his play Don’t You Wanna Be Free. It served as the organizing spirit for the birth of the League of Allied Arts. Thus, The League continues this legacy and supports African-American arts students today.
  • The acceptance into membership of four outstanding ladies: Francine Coleman Battle, Bertha Hurd, Joan Thomas, and Wilma Willis. Each brings talent and assets to The League. Non-profits must utilize the talents of those who are versed in critical skills required of businesses. Each brings a skill to the table: non profit management, Bertha Hurd; legal expertise, Joan Thomas; fundraising skills, Francine Battle Coleman; and administrative acumen, Wilma Willis.

Although we have listed four items for which we are grateful, please note that there are many more; and we extend a sincere thank you to our loyal supporters over the past years and extend New Year Greetings as we “Keep the Arts Central” in Los Angeles.


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