October 18, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

LAWT Contributing Writer


The massive  ‘Taste of Soul’ African American celebration that’s “All About Community Love” is an epic experience of exquisite culinary dishes, world class entertainment and the meshing of cultures far and near, but at the root of this transforming event is the partnership and collaborative efforts of individuals and organizations who work cohesively before and after to make ‘Taste of Soul’ the success it has become.

These individuals don’t sing or dance on the various stages on display, they don’t cook or serve the mouth watering barbeque or fish you may eat, their names and performance are oblivious to the hundreds of thousands who cram onto Crenshaw Blvd.

However, they are the most significant of them all.  They are for the most part the real stars and heroes of ‘Taste of Soul’ and have been for the past six years, and this year will be no exception.

Before the hordes of people make it to their favorite vendor or stage, the Department of Public Works Street Maintenance Division will have already begun its work more than 24 hours before.

The Street Maintenance Division is one of the oldest divisions within the Bureau. They commit to the cleaning and maintenance of Crenshaw Blvd., routing traffic and closing locations, in addition to performing a range of other functions.

Hundreds of dedicated city of Los Angeles employees, including the Street Maintenance Division work in collaboration with The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), which is a multifaceted fire and life safety organization.

The LAFD provides ‘Taste of Soul’ with fire apparatus, and other specialty equipment and ensures the safety of the spectators at the event.

Safety is the top priority of ‘Taste of Soul’ organizers and throughout its history has been fortunate to have the services of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Nation of Islam working together to prevent crime and ensure a fun environment.

Under the guidance of Chief Charlie Beck the LAPD deploys units of officers to ‘Taste of Soul’ to extend the services of community policing where uniformed officers are out of their patrol cars and on foot walking and working hand in hand with the citizens of the city.

The LAPD is joined by the male-only paramilitary wing of the Nation of Islam (NOI) which is a unique display of unity for safety, the distinctive uniforms of the LAPD can been seen with the stylish and laser focused units of the Nation of Islam canvasing and protecting the patrons on Crenshaw Blvd. during the largest African American celebration in the history of Los Angeles.

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff of the city of Compton will also join the collaboration to work and respond to medical emergencies and transporting patients to the hospital as needed. 

The EMS maintains two Advanced Life Support (ALS) units that respond to life-threatening emergencies, and two Basic Life Support (BLS) that respond to non-life-threatening emergencies, and in situations where more hands and resources are needed, such as a heart attack or multiple-casualty incidents, the ALS and BLS units may assist each other on scene; or they may request assistance from an available engine company.

These dedicated public servants are the engines that drive ‘Taste of Soul’ to a destiny that some thought were not attainable.

It is because of them hundreds of small business receive their most significant economic boost during ‘Taste of Soul.’

It is because of them that businesses, large and small along the Crenshaw corridor experience the gold rush of ‘Taste of Soul’ business overflow.

There isn’t a stage large enough that could contain the love and appreciation that we have for them.

There isn’t a meal that is tasteful enough or filling enough that could demonstrate how much they mean to us.

So, as we munch or crunch, dance or sing in basking in the glory of an African American block party which embraces its neighbors, remember why it is what it is, and be thankful to our “Collaborative Partners of Love.”  After all they are how we got here!




Category: Arts & Culture