Shirley Weber
Gov. Newsome swore in Dr. Shirley Weber as secretary of state one year ago. Photo via @CASOSVote Twitter

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber was one of three people honored Friday at a virtual ceremony to mark Southland celebrations of Black History Month.

“Hall of Fame Awards” were presented to Weber, a former San Diego state Assembly representative, along with healthcare executive Dr. John Griffith, and Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Eric Taylor.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Weber “made history writing her own chapter and spending a career blazing the trail for civil rights and for voting rights, as our state’s first Black secretary of state.”

Weber, who became Secretary of State in 2021, served nearly a decade in the Assembly and 40 years as a professor at San Diego State University, where she focused on Africana studies.

“I tell young people all the time that your task is to do a good job, and if you do that, without looking around and wondering who’s going to celebrate you, you will be celebrated,” she said.

“Being secretary of state was not something I applied for, it was not something that I even asked for, but because of the work that I had done in the legislature to fight against the injustice in the system and to expand voting rights and those kinds of things, the governor and his staff, amidst so many others applying, looked at me and asked me.”

Weber was honored to start off Los Angeles’ African American Heritage Month events.

“I want to congratulate the visionaries who are our honorees, dear friends, fellow servants, people who have made our city, state and world better,” Garcetti said.

The ceremony was held virtually again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous years, it was held at Los Angeles City Hall.

The city’s African American Heritage Month event is sponsored annually by Our Authors Study Club, which was created in 1945 with a mission to research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about African American life, history and culture.

Lura Daniels-Ball, president of Our Authors Study Club, spoke about the significance of Black History Month, saying, “We believe that Black history should be something that we talk about and study and read about and share 365 days of the year. So what is February about? Well, this is the opportunity for us to focus and gain inspiration and aspiration for the rest of the year.”

Griffith began his career with Kedren Health Center in 1981, becoming president and CEO in 2002. He specializes in bringing behavioral health care to families in South Los Angeles.

Taylor has served L.A.-area courts for the last 21 years. He became the assistant presiding judge in 2019.

City News Service