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NAJEE’S NOTES: Karim Webb appointed to airport commission

Last week I witnessed a game-changing moment for those that follow South Los Angeles politics and our community leaders.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Karim Webb to the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners. The seven-member board governs Los Angeles World Airports.

It is comprised of public-spirited business and civic leaders who are appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council.

Webb is a major figure in our community. But the way he carries himself, you would never know it. Humble and soft spoken, I remember chatting with him last month at the Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Awards held in Washington, D.C. Just a few feet away was the legendary U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

I suggested to Webb he approach Lewis to get a picture taken. Webb responded he didn’t want to bother Lewis at the dinner because people always approach him in public and he wanted Lewis to enjoy himself. That moment truly gave me more insight to who Webb truly is.

He’s genuine and authentic. It’s never about him or his ego. This young man is truly a servant leader of the people. I’ve watched him from a distance over the years and have seen his growth and development.

I was pleased that someone from our community has a seat at the table of power in the corridors of City Hall. The commission Webb sits on is a major one.

“The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has the duty to govern LAWA and formulate policy for our airports, one of which is in the midst of the largest infrastructure investment in the history of the city and the other of which is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country,” said Sean Burton, president of the Board of Airport Commissioners. “Commissioner Webb will bring new ideas and perspective to [the commission] and I look forward to working with him in the years to come.”

“The deep experience that Commissioner Webb brings as an entrepreneurial activist and civic leader will benefit LAWA and our airports,” said Deborah Flint, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports. “We know Commissioner Webb will provide valuable leadership as we continue to modernize and reimagine LAX and Van Nuys Airport in a way that benefits and includes our local communities.”

Those statements by his colleagues reflect the respect they have for Webb who is also the chief executive officer of 4thMVMT, a Los Angeles-based firm that seeks, trains, finances and partners with individuals from communities most impacted by the application of criminal justice, helping them to own and operate competitive retail businesses. His entrepreneurial experience and history of engagement with “opportunity youth” in Los Angeles has led him to philanthropic work promoting leadership development and ownership as a gateway to a fulfilled life.

Webb is also co-owner and operations partner of PCF Restaurant Management, a multi-unit franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings. He also serves as an advisor to the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance and holds several board positions, including the California Community Foundation, Everytable and the Living Through Giving Foundation: Hashtag Lunchbag.

He was also voted as the vice-chair of the Board of Directors for the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce.

And on a personal note if I sound like an advocate for Webb I am. When I was battling for my life with stage 3 lymphoma cancer, it was Webb who was of great personal assistance to myself and family. I will never forget his quiet philanthropy and support.

Knowing him the way I do. I’m confident he probably didn’t want the public to know that. But people need to know who Webb truly is. He’s a quiet hero and true role model in our community who gives back and helps our youth and others in their time of need.

•••

Former U.S. Rep. John Conyers died Oct. 27 at the age of 90 at his home in Detroit. Conyers wasn’t just a politician; he was a civil rights giant who I had the honor of meeting and talking to several times over the years when I traveled to Capitol Hill.

Conyers was one of 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but I first remember hearing Conyers name as a child who four days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. introduced a bill to establish the King holiday.

Conyers also led the charge against racial profiling and in support of reparations. He was a giant in Congress that our community should always remember. Tributes and accolades about Conyers’ legacy are being distributed nationwide, including this statement from an iconic music legend:

“John Conyers was my friend and hero. When I was 16, I heard his voice for the first time. He was advocating for a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. It was a warm, persuasive voice that made such a clear case for us to recognize this day. I never dreamed I would meet him. I didn’t know that voice and those words would affect my life deeply and we would share that mission together, years later.

“That mission, the King Holiday, is a symbol of John Conyers’s triumphant legacy. He helped the people do what they had never done before — demand and get a national holiday. That was John’s victory for us.” Stevie Wonder

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