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EVERY VOICE LIFTED: Los Angeles salutes BeBe Winans, three others for African- American Heritage Month

LOS ANGELES — Gospel singer BeBe Winans basked in the applause for his stellar music career on the City Hall’s south lawn, hoping to inspire as much as he is celebrated.

“It is important for me to continue to take what God has given me and tell everyone that you were born with a purpose, and born with a destiny,” Winans said Feb. 6 as he accepted the Living Legend Award at the city of Los Angeles’ 70th African American Heritage Month Celebration. Presiding Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile, USC interim President Wanda M. Austin and AT&T West President Ken McNeely were presented with Hall of Fame awards during the ceremony

Beginning in 1949, the African-American Heritage Month Celebration is a citywide commemoration of acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of African Americans in education, the arts, religion, business, culture and the humanities.

The celebration has been held on City Hall’s grounds since 1959. Sixty years later, hundreds of people watched dignitaries in their respective fields received acknowledgements for their contributions to society.

In addition to the awards, a presentation of the Gregory Hines heritage stamp was unveiled by the U.S. Postal Service.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAPD Chief Michel Moore, City Controller Ron Galperin and City Attorney Mike Feuer were among those taking part in the festivities.

Winans, 56, is the seventh and youngest child of the Detroit-based Winans family. His autobiographical musical, “Born for This,” is scheduled to premiere on Broadway later this year.

Before accepting his award, renditions of his songs were performed by musical guests. Winans teased the crowd by beginning to sing “Born This Way” before stopping at the first verse.

Prior to his appointment as judge, Brazile was the deputy county counsel for Los Angeles County and served as supervising judge of the court’s civil departments and managed civil cases throughout Los Angeles County.

“I will do my best to represent my city to the best of my ability. … You are my village, you are my support,” said Brazile, a 1980 graduate of UCLA.

In November, McNeely was promoted to president of AT&T West, overseeing California and 18 other states for the telecommunications company.

“It is so important for us to celebrate our heritage. African-American history is American history. … The two are inseperable,” McNeely said.

McNeely took time during the ceremony to thank Mike Davis, president of the Board of Public Works and chair of the African-American Heritage Month Committee, for his role in his life.

“I stood on the shoulders of giants. If it were not for people like Mike and others, it would not be possible for me to be in the position I am in today,” McNeely said of Davis.

“We will move forward together,” McNeely said to the audience.