In a day and age, when women’s right have come into question on a national political level, it’s inspiring to see a bright and shining example of a woman’s organization which takes great pride in celebrating themselves and their contributions to local communities. On Saturday, October 13, the 15th annual â€œFirst Ladies High Teaâ€ was hosted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. It’s an annual event that honors women and first ladies who have gone the extra mile and beyond to serve their churches and local communities through their activism and charitable contributions.
It’s not entirely clear when the term â€œFirst Ladiesâ€ was first used to describe the group of prominent pastor’s wives in the Los Angeles area, but the term has now become synonymous with a group of elite women whose faith and community involvement has made them inspirational leaders not only in their congregations, but also in the fields of fashion, community outreach and the creation of programs that address the many needs of their surrounding neighborhoods. Their tireless efforts over the past decade and a half constitute a long-term dedication to improving the heart and soul of their communities. These women are inspiring examples of what can be accomplished when people are willing to do good work in places where it is desperately needed.
This year the event celebrated the contribution of five exceptional women, including Legacy Award Winner include Rev. Beverly â€œBamâ€ Crawford. Crawford has distinguished herself as Senior Pastor and founder of Bible Enrichment Fellowship International and is also President and Founder of The Company International, an organization bringing together women from various occupations, organizations and ministries to provide them with much needed resources. Honoree Tisa Hill of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church has coordinated women’s retreats and conferences, and is a mentor and role model for young women, helping create improved self-esteem, elevated standards of social behavior and proper etiquette. Togetta Ulmer, of Faithful Central Bible Church, was cited for her efforts as a spiritual leader and counselor for women, and has organized marriage seminars to spiritually enrich the lives of couples, inspirational retreats and Bible studies in her community. Evelyn Perkins, of True Friendship Baptist Church, is a leader in her church and community and currently serves as First Vice President for California State Minister’s Wives and Ministers’ Widows. She was also chosen to attend the First Ladies Summit celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington DC in 2006-2008. In addition to these honorees, 3-time GRAMMY award winning gospel duo Mary Mary was also onâ€“hand to receive the evenings’ Spirit Award. Siblings Erica and Tina Campbell from Inglewood, CA grew up singing in church and El Camino College, and went on to have chart-topping gold and platinum albums and, in addition their GRAMMY success, also received 2 American Music Awards and a BET award.
The celebration of so many contributions to church and community was a high fashion, red carpet high tea event hosted by GRAMMY Award-winner gospel singer Yolanda Adams, who is the recipient of four Grammy awards, seven NAACP Image awards and four BET awards, and who also introduced her Yolanda Adams Fashion Collection at the event. Popular actor, comedian and director, Cedric the Entertainer served as program announcer, and musical entertainment was provided by actress and gospel singer Tamela Mann, along with gospel singer Kathy Taylor Brown. Their rousing performances heightened the festive atmosphere of the evening. Other celebrity guests included actress Elise Neal, David (â€œMeet the Brownsâ€ ) Mann, musician Sheila E and Sheree (â€œHollywood Exesâ€ ) Fletcher.
The First Ladies High Tea has become an important part of the social calendar in Los Angeles, in part through the publicity efforts of Edna Sims and ESP Public Relations. This year the event included 1000-plus attendees that included many entertainment celebrity guests, community leaders and past honorees including former California First Lady Maria Shriver, former LA County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, renown vocalist Nancy Wilson, TV One founder Cathy Hughes, actor/activist Hill Harper and The Honorable Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California.
In decade and half since its inception, the First Ladies High Tea has served to inspire women, both young and old, to join forces and create a movement of service towards each other, toward the communities in which they live and also to the development of their individual spiritual lives.