June 20, 2013
By Xavier Higgs
LAWT Contributing Writer
The Black Prosecutors Association of Los Angeles held its 2nd annual Alfred Jenkins awards ceremony last Thursday attended by the Who's Who of local legal society.
In a rare appearance together, the chief law enforcement officers in the State of California were honored together. The ceremony honorees included Kamala Harris, California attorney general, Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles district attorney, Andre Birotte, Jr., U.S. attorney Central District of California, and Ron Brown, Los Angeles County public defender.
It was a big moment for Lacey, who talked about the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream speech.
“I believe we are witnessing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream,” she tearfully reminded the crowd.
She also emphasized the importance of black prosecutors in this society.
For Lacey, Birotte, and Harris this was the pinnacle of climbing the often-unjust world of politics. Each toiled away as low and mid level prosecutors before becoming the first African Americans to hold their respected positions.
John Mack says, “we should celebrate Andre Birotte, Jackie Lacey, and Kamala Harris because not only are they African Americans but they are at the top of their game. He adds, “they earned it and they are the absolute best.”
The ceremony, billed as a tribute to the “Champions of Justice” is a fundraiser for the BPLA Scholarship fund. More than 300 glittering guests — women in elegant gowns and men in black business suits and tuxedos gingerly socialized with the four guess of honor.
Still, the evening’s festivities included photo ops with one or more of the honorees.
Harris praised U.S. Attorney Birotte as one of the “finest U.S. Attorney’s in the United States.” She also reminded the crowd that the penal code was not designed just to protect “snow white.”
Alfred Jenkins, Retired District Attorney, and considered the Godfather of many in the room, says it’s overwhelming to be a part of the pipeline of young black people succeeding in the law.
“It’s wonderful to get your recognition while you are here to appreciate it,” says Jenkins. “It’s a marvelous feeling.”
Birotte echoed the sentiment of the other honorees. “I am in this position because of all the people that supported me.”