April 03, 2014
By Kenneth D. Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
For more than four decades the name Danny J. Bakewell Sr. has become synonymous with family, civil rights and the uplifting of the African American culture, but on March 25th, the CEO of Bakewell Media which owns the Sentinel, L.A. Watts Times and WBOK Radio Station in his native Louisiana released his first book at Eso Won Book Store in Leimert Park.
It was book that not even he could have envisioned several years ago when he embarked on a selfless mission for justice and equal rights for Black Americans, but he certainly discovered the right niche in which to gain Blacks attention.
The dinner table, at backyard barbeques, reunions and an array of family functions that has collectively placed Blacks in unison as One is what led Bakewell to create and found the Taste of Soul Family Festival held annually in October on Crenshaw Blvd.
Derived from that concept was Bakewell’s out of the box mindset that led him to publish the Taste of Soul Cookbook which pays homage to the many local chefs who own establishments in the Black community.
Then spicing it up with unique family recipes from his late ancestors and current wife and soulmate Aline, is what transforms this book from a how to do, but what to do.
“Taste of Soul was discovered because I had an unquenchable thirst of what was possible for Black people,” Bakewell explained to the audience of dozens at Eso Won.
“We deserve to enjoy our community just like everybody else enjoys their community. We had a right to be able to assemble in our community without fear, without factors of people mistrusting us and not believing in us,” he added.
With his long committed assistant Brenda Marsh-Mitchell as the driving force, Bakewell began testing his concept among elected officials, community advocates, family and friends.
Many tentatively listened because Bakewell was delivering the message, but few dare believe that he would hold an event that would essentially shut down Crenshaw Blvd., and that there would not be any consequences or mishaps along the way.
“You can’t close down Crenshaw Blvd.,” he recalled them saying. “There might be trouble, they indicated. You get a lot of us together and you might have a problem,” the naysayers queried.
Bakewell extolled,” Why is it that we can’t come together in our own community in the spirit of pride, respect and enjoyment. To use our own community to share and fulfill our own dreams and aspirations, to show our children just how wonderful we are as a people and also invite other people into our community where they would be fully welcomed to a community full of love, family, respect.”
Hence almost a decade later, the Taste of Soul Family Festival is one of the largest and most successfully Black celebrations in America, growing from 35,000 in it first year to more than 350,000 last year.
The first installment of the cookbook is a vivid, colorful and delicious documentation of that cultural experience which has evolved into Taste of Soul Nation, exceeding the boundaries of South Los Angeles and well beyond.
While the Bakewell vision has been keen, he took very little credit for producing a keepsake as valuable of the Taste of Soul Cookbook.
“It is not me, it is my staff that work on a daily basis which allows my vision to turn into a living reality which our community can see, touch, feel and experience,” he said.
“I'd like to thank my team who gave so much of themselves and worked to help bring this book to fruition.”
And, thus embark upon the unlimited possibilities . . .