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Garcetti announces he won’t run for president

LOS ANGELES — After more than a year of speculation and travels to political hotspots across the country, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Jan. 29 he has decided against a bid for the presidency in 2020.

“Reflecting on those travels and recognizing the incredible opportunity I have every single day as mayor of this great town, I realize this is what I am meant to do,” Garcetti said at a City Hall news conference. “This is where I want to be and this is a place where we have so much exciting work to finish. I’ve also realized in my thinking that I’m kind of old-fashioned. It may be out of vogue today, but I kind of believe that whenever possible, you should finish the job that you set out to do.”

Garcetti was reelected to a second term in 2017 in a landslide and has openly explored a potential presidential run ever since through a number of political trips, including visits to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

But with a likely Democratic field that political experts estimate will reach more than 20 contenders, Garcetti chose to stay at City Hall for the time being.

“This was not an easy decision given the extraordinary times we live in,” he said. “As an American, like so many of us, we look to Washington for our better angels. We look to a government that would be kind and caring, but today we see one that is corrupt and cruel. Worst of all, they can’t seem to get anything done.

“You can’t make anything great if it doesn’t even work, and we all need to make America work again,” he said in another jab at President Donald Trump. “And you can count on me in that fight always. I’m so proud to be mayor of this city, the City of Angels, 4 million souls who have entrusted in me the leadership of this city of tomorrow. It embodies an America where we all belong.”

He said he was encouraged by the people who have already thrown their hats into the ring.

“Each of them share my belief in a more United States of America,” he said. “And they can count on me to be with them every step of that fight to take our country back.”

Until as recently as last week, Garcetti acknowledged to reporters he was still thinking of running.

“I think we have a TV reality star as president. We had our first African-American president,” Garcetti told CBS News last week when asked about the potential of being the first mayor to jump right into the White House. “The time for obviously trying new things — in both positive and sometimes negative ways — is upon us. I don’t think it’s about your resume anymore.”

Franklin documentary to open Pan African Film Festival

LOS ANGELES – “Amazing Grace,” a 1972 documentary featuring Aretha Franklin and her L.A.-based recording of a gospel album, will be screened Feb. 7 as the kickoff film for the 27th annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival.

Franklin, an iconic talent who defined a musical era, inspired a generation of activists and blazed a trail of opportunity for scores of singers to follow, died last August of pancreatic cancer.

“Aretha Franklin is a rare treasure. To be graced with this film is an honor and a testament to the perseverance and long-standing prominence of the festival’s impact,” festival co-founder and actor Danny Glover said in a statement.

The documentary, recorded in Watts, is among more than 170 films from 40 countries in 26 languages that will be screened Feb. 7-18 at the Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres, organizers said. Creative works by hundreds of artists also will be displayed at the adjacent Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The festival, which attracts thousands of visitors from throughout the African diaspora, is the largest event of its kind dedicated to film, art, music and creative expression by black people, organizers said.

“As a result of the slave trade, we are spread all over the planet,” said Ayuko Babu, the festival’s co-founder and executive director. “We need a way, a vehicle, that brings us to an understanding that we have something in common with African descendants all over the world.”

The festival opens with the previously shelved documentary on Franklin, directed by renowned filmmaker Sydney Pollack. Unseen for decades due to legal and technical issues, the documentary was recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, with Rev. James Cleveland, Rev. C.L. Franklin [Aretha’s father] and Mick Jagger making appearances.

“It was a two-day gospel extravaganza,” Babu said of the recording sessions. “You had the makings of a great concert and a great cultural and spiritual experience that would last through the ages.”

The way Franklin’s voice combined soul, gospel, pop and R&B embodies the spirit and diversity of the annual festival, Babu said.

“What we try to do is bring all of our voices together,” he said. “If you want to understand who we are as a people, you have to listen to all of us.”

Babu said he is thrilled for audiences to see stories told from different perspectives — stories like “Where Hands Touch,” a romance film about a black teenager played by Amandla Stenberg in Nazi Germany, and “Ali’s Comeback: The Untold Story,” which reveals behind-the-scenes efforts to get Muhammad Ali reinstated into boxing after he refused induction into the U.S. Army.

Other films audiences can expect to see at the festival include: “Little Woods,” starring Tessa Thompson; “Buffalo Soldiers: A Quest for Freedom,” directed by The Isabelle Brothers; and “Rafiki,” directed by Wanuri Kahiu.

“There is diverse storytelling within our people,” Babu said, adding that the high quality of these films will keep distributors coming back for more of the same.

Babu said he expects “Amazing Grace” to not only tell a unique story about spirituality and music, but also to keep the legacy of the “Queen of Soul” alive.

“People would say when you listen to Aretha, you can hear all the way back to the ancestors in Africa,” Babu said. “To bring her manifestation back one more time through film is an honor and a privilege.”

For more information, visit the festival’s website at www.paff.org.

Two activities planned for King Day of Service

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The city will continue its tradition of joining hundreds of communities across the country in a National Day of Service to commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday by providing two opportunities for community members to make an impact.

Community members can take part in a clothing drive event at the West Hollywood City Council chambers for donations to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center from 7 to 9 a.m. Jan. 19 or participate in the downtown Los Angeles women’s march Jan. 19.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center is in greatest need of all adult sizes of new or lightly used dress clothes such as pants, shirts, suits, belts, shoes (men’s 7-13, women’s 6-12, with the shoes tied together), jeans, jackets, coats, and ponchos (for all weather), hoodies, sweats; T-shirts and brand new packages of socks and underwear, Also needed are travel-sized hygiene items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and shaving items, granola bars; $5 gift cards for Target, and food or grocery store gift cards.

The Cityline Commuter, the city’s free mini-bus to the Hollywood & Highland Center, will operate extended hours Jan. 19 at 15-minute intervals to assist community members in easily getting to and theRed Line, which will take them downtown for the women’s march, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Red Line service stops at Pershing Square where riders can walk to the women’s march.

The Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday was designated as a national day of service by Congress in 1994. Each year, the city of West Hollywood participates in this call to action.

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