March 23, 2023

By Devyn Bakewell

Assistant Managing Editor


Award-winning author Kellye Garrett grew up with a passion for fiction. 

“Since I was five years old, I’ve known I wanted to be a writer,” she admitted in an interview with the L.A. Watts Times. “I was lucky in that mom was a big reader, so I definitely got that from her. As I got older, she gave me free reign over bookshelves. This was in the 90s, so I got to read some really amazing authors. People like Terry McMillian, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Walter Mosley were blowing up, so I was really lucky because it taught me that representation matters.” 

Garrett is the author of three novels—her “Detective by Day” Series, and then her most recent novel, “Like A Sister,” A twisty, voice-driven thriller novel, “Like A Sister” follows a dead Black Reality TV Star’s half-estranged sister who refuses to believe the official story of her death and seeks to find out the dangerous truth.

“[Like A Sister] came from an actual New York Daily headline. The opening of the book says I found out my sister died from the New York Daily News, and I think the actual headline was something, like, pregnant, former reality star found dead in Bronx,” Garrett told the L.A. Watts Times.

“The woman in me thought oh, that’s terrible way to pass away, but I also thought the headline was very hurtful because it was a Black woman, like they wouldn’t be doing that for a Kardashian. But the writer in me was like Oh that’s a good mystery. How did this glamorous reality star go from partying up in Downtown Manhattan to dying alone on a street corner in the Bronx? And then one day said, Oh she was going to see her estranged sister, and never made it.


She continued, “So that’s where the book came from—it’s from the POV of her estranged Sister [Lena]. She hadn’t talked to her sister in two years but knows that she was coming to see her at five in the morning, didn’t make it, and wants to know what happened.”

Within all of Garrett’s novels she incorporates different depictions of Black women, something the author said is not intentional, but just a part of her writing about Black people. Her main character, Lena, is a woman described as the strong one who laughs rather than cries, and always gets her tasks done.

The main character of “Like A Sister,” Lena, is a woman described as the strong one who laughs rather than cries, and always gets her tasks done.

In describing the making of Lena’s character, Garret shared that, “I think with a lot of Black people, we have to have a sense of humor because of our history. We can almost always make a joke about anything, and it’d be funny, so I wanted that to kind of have that in a character. Usually, [in the domestic suspense genre] you see things like “Gone Girl, which is about like some white woman who’s married and living in the suburbs and is lying about something. So, as a Black woman, living in the city, I couldn’t identify with that.”

“I wanted to see someone who looks like me, like my family, on those pages,” Kellye Garret continued, “but I also knew that because it was a Black woman, she would not get the same grace and sympathy that she’d get. So, I wanted to talk about that, too—like, the strong Black woman cape that she uses as a cape, and that she uses as a shield. And that she needs to be more vulnerable.”

It being National Women’s Month and Garret being a Black female author, when asked if Garrett is intentional about the way she portrays her female characters, she shared that “sometimes you have to be, we have to talk about race a lot.”

“There are a lot of things we have to write about,” said Garret. “I feel like often, other races want us to breed our work, which makes me sad because I think we should be able to have all types of stories,” she expressed.

“We should be able to have a really good books and literature, like Toni Morrison. We should be able to have really bad books, too, you know? Or books that are just fun. I think what I want is for Black people, especially Black women, to write whatever they want. I don’t think we’re at that point, but I really hope that one day we are.”

Within all of Garrett’s novels she incorporates different depictions of Black women, something the author said is not intentional, but just a part of her writing about Black people.

“I just wanted to write about awesome Black women because that’s how Black women are—we’re so diverse and different.”

Being a Black woman or man in the publishing industry is not an easy aspiration. Black authors often face a lot of pushback when trying to tell the stories of Black people; their passions being the only thing that keeps them going. ‘

With this, Garret’s advice to other young black women, trying to tell write and tell Black stories is that “it can be painful sometimes, but keep going…keep writing every day, every week, and you’ll have a finished book.”

“Somedays, I tell myself I keep going because I’m not good at anything else,” the author joked. “I just love writing—I hate writing, but I love having written.I love the creative process, and that’s what keeps me going.

I keep doing it because it’s what I love. I always go back to that five-year-old girl. This is what she wants.”

Kellye Garrett’s books are sold everywhere books are sold. For more information on the author, visit Also check out her Instagram (@kellyekell).


Category: News

March 23, 2023

By Joe Bowers

California Black Media


On her first day in office, Dec. 12, 2022, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness. This gave her administration expanded powers to help people gain access to permanent housing. 

As she marks 100 days in office this week, Bass estimates that around 4,000 Angelinos will have been housed since she took charge of City Hall. She points out that most of the people are housed due to Proposition HHH and programs already in place when she took office, but about 1,000 of them have found housing due to her Inside Safe program.

 One of the major challenges for Bass in getting people into permanent supportive housing has been navigating bureaucratic red tape.  "Well, it did take a long time because of the red tape, but it's finally coming to fruition in a big way," she said.

She expects to see a significant increase in the number of people in permanent housing over the next 100 days.

 According to Bass, probably the most controversial decision of her administration was agreeing to give LAPD Chief Michel Moore a second term. This decision has potentially long-range consequences for the mayor and her record on crime.  

“We have the World Cup coming up in 2026 and the Olympics coming up in 2028.” Bass said.  “He (Moore) has said he has no intentions of staying five years. I have no intention of a five-year contract. But we are going to begin a community process citywide to ask Angelinos what they want and need to see in order to be safe. And that will provide a roadmap for how we select a chief, but it is important that we have a chief in place."

Yet another issue that the city government needs to address that has Bass’ attention is its current inability to prevent homelessness “now.”  Speaking to Black journalists, Bass said, "Here's where you guys can all help us, and we desperately need your help. I'm very worried that we're going to have another spike in homelessness because of evictions that are kicking up now, because of the eviction moratorium going away.  

“The city council passed tenant protections, and where you could be helpful, and we could be helpful to you is we need to get the word out,” Bass continued. “And so, we're going to be coming to you for advertising. We need you to advertise, and we need to support your advertising.”

When asked by California Black Media what best prepared her for taking on the responsibilities of the mayor, Bass said,

" I think it's been my life's work. I don't think it's been one thing. There are the 14-years at Community Coalition, but that's always been my foundation.

“Of course, being in the state house and Congress is very helpful. I know that was why the government alignment happened so quickly because I was building on many, many, many years of relationships. I think what's always driven me is my commitment to the issues and my purpose is to stop the suffering of our people on the streets.”


As she has been dealing with the homelessness crisis, Bass has been building her City Hall team. Members of her senior leadership team include Chris Thompson, chief of staff, and Mercedes Marquez, chief of Housing and Homelessness Solutions.


Filling many of the open deputy mayor positions, she has hired Rachel Freeman, deputy mayor for Business and Economic Development; Karren Lane, deputy mayor of Community Empowerment; Brian K. Williams, deputy mayor of Public Safety; Randall Winston, deputy mayor of Public Works; and Nancy Sutley, deputy mayor of Energy and Sustainability. 

The deputy mayors are tasked with hiring based on an assessment of the personnel needs of their department. Currently, many departments are understaffed and that is affecting the city’s ability to deliver essential services. 

Category: News

March 23, 2023

LAWT News Service


In a salute to Women’s History Month, the Black Stuntmen and Women’s Association (BSA), presented an honorary membership to Capri Maddox, executive director of the Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department (LA Civil Rights). The presentation was hosted by Community Build, Inc.

“Ms. Maddox may not be in danger of breaking a limb on the job like we were, but she is always on the front lines, fighting for the rights of all the people in Los Angeles,” said BSA President Alex Brown, a stuntman for over 30 years, who presented Maddox with a certificate.

“We’re making her an honorary member of the Black Stuntmen and Woman’s Association for her ability to defend the underserved and still land on her feet.”

Former Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Maddox to the newly created department in February 2020 as its first executive director to address systemic racism and bias in the areas of commerce, education, employment, and housing. Under Maddox’s leadership, LA Civil Rights works to level the playing field through partnerships with the Commission on Civil Rights, Commission on the Status of Women, Reparations Commission and the Human Relations Commission, including the Transgender Advisory Council.

Los Angeles’ first participatory budget pilot program, L.A. Repair, which is operated by the Office of Racial Equity, is one of the many programs in Maddox’s LA Civil Rights Department.  Other programs include Equity and Empowerment, LA FOR ALL: Stop Hate Resource Hub and Discrimination Enforcement.

In accepting the honorary BSA membership, Maddox called out the Hollywood movie industry for its treatment of Black stuntmen and women.

“We consume their product.  I think it’s about time that they show respect for our community and definitely show respect for our stunt members that have been hurt over the years, that have been underpaid, that have been disrespected with [White stuntmen performing in] blackface. And It’s still happening,” Maddox said.

The Black Stuntmen and Women’s Association made history in the 1960s as early pioneers in the film industry. Following years of being denied jobs as stunt doubles for Black actors, BSA sued the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).  The lawsuit was settled out of court and provided a path for Black stunt workers to obtain membership in the SAG, paving the way for jobs for Black stuntmen and women in front of and behind the camera, literally ‘changing the face of Hollywood.’

Four original BSA members attended the event with BSA President Alex Brown - Joe Tilque, William J. Upton, Jadie David and Phyllis Linda Ellis.  David and Ellis were two of the early female stunt pioneers.  

Because of discrimination, Ellis was never able to obtain her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card, which would have allowed her to get screen credit for her work.  Despite this, during her 30-year career, Ellis performed hundreds of independent uncredited stunts and worked behind the scenes in hair, make-up and wardrobe. 

In the early 1970s, David was spotted riding one of her horses in Griffith Park and was recruited by a scout looking for a stunt double for actress Denise Nicholas.  David’s career spanned over three decades.  She was a stunt double for Pam Grier, Theresa Graves, Cicely Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg and others.

As a part of the ceremony, Councilwoman Heather Hutt (Council District 10) presented BSA members with a certificate of ­appreciation for 55 years of service in the entertainment industry. 

“For 55 years, BSA has broken barriers and opened doors and created opportunities and probably hurt themselves along the way,’ said Hutt. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate women’s history month, than to talk about the women that participated as stuntwomen in this business.  It really embodies what it takes to move the needle forward in these kinds of industries.”

The BSA also bestowed Community Build President Robert Sausedo with an honorary membership for his fight for equity and inclusion.

“Robert Sausedo has been taking the lead in the battle to make our community a better place,” said Brown. “He may not be jumping out of burning buildings, but he and his team have been putting out fires in the community and we want to recognize him for that.”

The Black Stuntmen and Women’s Association was a featured element in the 2019 city hall exhibit, “Blacks in Cinema” and is a component of the African American Heritage Month Legacy Project curated and produced by Albert Lord, vice president of Government Relations and Arts Programs for Community Build, Inc.  The “Blacks in Cinema” exhibit is currently on display as a walking window exhibit in Leimert Park at the offices of Community Build, Inc.

Category: News

March 16, 2023

By Denise J. Gibbs

Contributing Writer


Dr. Joyce Dixon Hightower is a medical doctor, accomplished author, speaker, and compassionate humanitarian who has been educating, feeding, and housing marginalized youth, empowering women, and strengthening African communities and families for over 30 years. 

Hightower grew up in a poor rural area in Northern Los Angeles County under the strong influence of community service from her father, Superintendent Samuel Dixon, pastor of Macedonia Church of God in Christ, and mother, Evelyn Dixon, medical technologist.

Her work experience in Africa began in 1977 as a high school science teacher in rural Kenya. In response to the challenge to increase the number of the country’s candidates for medical school, Hightower returned to the U.S. and completed medical school in 1988.

While practicing in central California, Hightower led medical mission teams to Kenya and supported orphanages and rural clinics with supplies. In 2001, a unique medical mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa caused a dramatic change in the direction of her life. I

n 2002, Hightower returned to DRC as a volunteer public health improvement consultant.

In 2009, Hightower began working for the World Health Organization (WHO) in the African Region. She found ways to support orphans, especially in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, while continuing to develop  DRC efforts.

In 2012, she founded the Dixon-Hightower Foundation, a 501c3 organization that uniquely focused on providing ongoing charitable and quality education to support orphans, widows, and marginalized people worldwide.

Winding her WHO efforts down for retirement, in 2015, Hightower was sent to Guinea Conakry to lead the WHO fight against the Ebola pandemic. It turned out to be one of the high achievement points of her career. After returning to the U.S., she began working in a local clinic to support the DRC orphanage and school and retired again in 2021.

Outlining her plans, Hightower explained, “As in other projects in various countries over the last 30 years, the one planned in the DRC will be self-sufficient when completed.  The Solid Rock Youth Complex (SRYC) project in the (DRC) has lasted the longest and received a significant financial investment because of its strategic capacity to impact the greatest need.

“We are giving livelihood training for widows, providing housing for orphans, and have 200 students attending (pre-school through 6th grade presently occupying much of the orphanage building). Our school has a 100% national exam pass rate, and the demand for placement for orphans and students has skyrocketed,” she said.

“We must raise $700,000 to complete the school building, 7th through 12th grade, for over four hundred children. Once the school moves out of the orphanage building, we could accept more baby orphans.”

Hightower’s uncle, the honorable Bishop Roy Dixon, D.D., jurisdictional prelate of Southern California 4th Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Church of God in Christ, said, “I’ve been to the Congo and visited the school, orphanage, and widows’ project comprising the Solid Rock Youth Complex sponsored by the Dixon-Hightower Foundation.  It’s such an unusual thing that my niece is doing.  She’s an M.D. and gives 90% of her salary to this work in the Congo. There are many miraculous stories to tell.”

Dixon continued, “She built the orphanage, and 17 homeless, fatherless, and motherless children call SRYC home.  They are at that school day and night because this is their home.  She’s their mother, she is their father, and this is the only hope these children and many others have. 


“Not only is she providing for those children physically, emotionally, and educationally at the school that she is building, but she is also putting them through higher grades in other facilities throughout the Congo.”


When asked, what is your desire for the women, children, and people in the Congo where you’re still helping and have invested so many years?

Hightower stated, “I would like this project to stand as an encouraging example of hope and self-sufficiency by using support tools provided and working hard together. I want the people that we support to know that God hears their prayers wherever they are and provides for them.


“Just like God put it in my heart to come all the way from Newhall, California, He can hear their prayers to do whatever He puts in their hearts to do.”


Sharing what she’d like her life to reflect, Hightower said, “I want the biggest message of my life to be that God puts in your heart what He uses to show His greatness, love, and almighty power.

We have the privilege of joining in these loving acts.”


To lend support, visit:  or

Learn more at:

Related Articles:

Category: News

Page 1 of 1551