Education, Arts & Culture

Women Olympians Honored at Coliseum

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Posing with new plaques at the Coliseum in honor of two outstanding women Olympians. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors 

The images of two pioneering women Olympians have been enshrined on plaques at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s Court of Honor. Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first women’s Olympic Marathon, and Anita L. DeFrantz, Olympic medalist for rowing and International Olympic Committee member, are only the second and third individual women athletes since 1932 to be memorialized this way.

“The Coliseum Court of Honor welcomes two extraordinary athletes who exemplify the Olympic spirit and paved the way for women to excel in sports at the highest level,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas during the ceremony, co-sponsored by his office. “We celebrate Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anita DeFrantz for their achievements as Olympians and as female role models.”

Pioneering Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson are honored at the ceremony

Pioneering Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson are honored at the ceremony

 

After unveiling the plaque, DeFrantz said, “We all know that women’s sport historically has been underreported. I’m thrilled that women’s accomplishments will be celebrated at the Coliseum with these plaques.”

Nearly 60 plaques have been installed at the Court of Honor since 1932. Until now, the only individual female athlete commemorated was Babe Didrikson, and her plaque was installed in 1961. LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril led the effort to bestow similar honors on both Samuelson and DeFrantz.

“Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anita DeFrantz showed girls across the world how a sporting dream can spring into reality, and inspire our work every day to keep closing the gender gap in sports,” Simril said, adding the pioneering athletes’ contributions on and off the field are “nothing short of transcendent.”

Diandra Jay/Board of SupervisorsWith the goal of leveling the playing field so that sport is accessible to all children, LA84 supports thousands of Southern California youth sports organizations through grant making, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and acting as a national thought leader on important youth sports issues.

Anita DeFrantz is a 1976 Olympic rowing bronze medalist and 1980 U.S. Olympic Team member.  She later became vice president of the Olympic Village for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, and a president of the LA84 Foundation. Currently, she is a member of four IOC commissions – Finances, Legal Affairs, Olympic Channel and the Coordination for the Tokyo 2020 Games. She is one of Chairman Ridley-Thomas’ appointees to the Women & Girls Initiative’s Governing Council, representing Los Angeles County’s Second District.

Joan Benoit Samuelson became the first woman to win the inaugural Women’s Olympic Marathon at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1984. In 2009 she was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame. Currently, she serves as a consultant to Nike and as a clinician.

Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Honorary USC Degree for Ridley-Thomas

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The University of Southern California awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters to Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas at its 134th Commencement, citing his contributions to the community.

“It is my hope and commitment that I may continue to serve the public, especially the underserved in our society who are homeless, jobless and lack access to basic medical care, which I believe is a right and not a privilege,” said Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas, who received his Ph.D. in Social Ethics from USC in 1989, focusing on Social Criticism and Social Change.

USC also awarded honorary degrees to comedian Will Ferrell, who delivered the commencement address. Ferrell earned his undergraduate degree in Sports Information from USC in 1990. Also recognized were Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, social work visionary Suzanne Dworak-Peck, orthopaedic spinal surgeon and inventor Gary Michelson, and David Ho, a leading researcher in the fight against AIDS.

OPENING REMARKS BY USC PRESIDENT C.L. MAX NIKIAS

USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Good morning, and welcome to the 134th Annual Commencement of the University of Southern California! 

Today, we confer more than 15,000 degrees at the undergraduate level, at the graduate and doctoral level, and at the professional level. Today, we confer degrees on graduates from all 50 states and from more than 100 nations, representing hundreds of fields and specialties. We confer them on women and men from every walk of life.

Today, we also confer honorary degrees on a number of international icons in the arts and humanities; in public service and philanthropy; and in medical and scientific innovation.

REMARKS BY DEAN AMBER MILLER OF THE
USC DORNSIFE COLLEGE OF LETTERS, ARTS AND SCIENCES 

Over his long and distinguished career as a state and local legislator, Mark Ridley-Thomas has been a steadfast champion of Los Angeles. He has tirelessly worked to extend vital services to more citizens, and to increase civic engagement in our city. In founding the influential Empowerment Congress more than 25 years ago, he created a powerful model for political expression.

An esteemed Trojan alumnus, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas strengthens our communities by shaping inclusive legislation that touches the lives of millions while helping to fulfill the lofty promise of a democratic society.

For his exceptional legislative efforts, his determined leadership, and his visionary philosophy of community engagement, the University of Southern California is proud to honor Mark Ridley-Thomas with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.

REMARKS BY USC PRESIDENT C.L. MAX NIKIAS

By the authority vested in me by the USC Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon Mark Ridley-Thomas the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. Please accept our warmest congratulations.

LA Based ‘Napalm Girl’ Photographer Retires After 51 Years

Legendary Los Angeles-based photographer Nick Ut, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1972 photo that became an iconic image of the Vietnam War, is retiring after a 51 year career with the Associated Press.
Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

“Nick Ut, through his hauntingly beautiful photography, has chronicled history and captivated the world’s attention, leaving a legacy for future generations,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who recognized Ut proclaiming April 4, 2017 as Nick Ut Day in the County of Los Angeles.

Born in Vietnam in 1951, Ut was 15 when his brother and war photographer, Huynh Thanh My, was killed at war in 1965. Promising to himself that he would continue his brother’s mission of taking a photo that would end the war, Ut showed up at the AP’s Saigon bureau, seeking a job.

He was only 21 when he took the famed photo of a naked 9-year-old girl fleeing her village after a napalm attack on June 8, 1972. At 12:30 p.m. that day, four napalm bombs were dropped on Trang Bang. Nick watched in horror as people emerged from the fireball and smoke. He photographed a grandmother carrying a baby who died in her arms. He then photographed nine-year-old Kim Phuc whose clothes had been burned off her and whose skin was beginning to melt off of her body in strips. Badly in need of immediate medical attention, Kim had third-degree burns on more than 30 percent of her body. Nick set his camera aside, covered her with a raincoat and drove Kim and other injured children to a hospital in nearby Cu Chi. After the hospital refused to admit her, Ut used his media credentials to get her treated by doctors who ultimately saved her life.

“I cried when I saw her running,” Ut once told an AP reporter. “If I don’t help her — if something happened and she died — I think I’d kill myself after that.” Ut is still close with the now 53-year-old Kim Phúc who is a wife and mother of two.

South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places, June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim's cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places, June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim’s cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Nick Ut was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his photograph of Kim, which is credited with swaying public opinion against the war in Vietnam.

Los Angeles police form a line to prevent a crowd from going into a building, April 30, 1992, in a day of fires and looting. It was a long day as officers moved from trouble spot to trouble spot. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Los Angeles police form a line to prevent a crowd from going into a building, April 30, 1992, in a day of fires and looting. It was a long day as officers moved from trouble spot to trouble spot. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Ut would go on to take tens of thousands of photos over the next 44 years. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Ut came to California as a refugee. AP sent him to Tokyo, and then to Los Angeles in 1977. He became a fixture in Los Angeles, where his images from the 1992 civil unrest, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the recent brush fires became an international lens to tell the story of current events in Los Angeles County.

During his retirement, he plans to spend time with his family, especially his grandchildren, teaching photography, and, yes, taking more pictures. “I’ll take pictures until I die,” says Ut. “My camera is like my doctor, my medicine.”

Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

 

Revolutionizing the Voting System

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Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

Determined to revolutionize its voting system, Los Angeles County unveiled a high-tech and user-friendly prototype to replace the aging InkaVote Plus, as well as a host of other proposed innovations and reforms to better serve the nation’s largest electorate.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said this reimagining of the voting system, tentatively slated for a full rollout in 2020, could have a profound effect on the democratic process. He said, “Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy, and these improvements will make elections more accessible, secure, transparent and trustworthy.”

DFB_8722 (1)Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan added that efforts to modernize and streamline the voting system go beyond upgrading technology. “We envision a systemic and holistic improvement in the way we provide election services, providing more accessible and flexible voting options,” he said. “The new system will allow us to meet voters where they are, and give them the ability to have choices and customize their experience in a manner that instills trust, confidence and possibly even excitement in the experience of casting a vote.”

The County’s five million registered voters currently cast ballots using the InkaVote Plus, which relies on components developed in 1968. To ensure greater citizen participation in designing the next generation of voting machines, the County kicked off the Voting Systems Assessment Project in 2009. Consultations with elections, security and technology experts, as well as different kinds of voters, concluded that none of the existing off-the-shelf voting machines could satisfy the County’s complex needs. IDEO, an award-winning global design firm credited with helping design Apple’s first computer mouse, among other innovations, was then brought in to develop a prototype.

DFB_8697 (1)The vision for the new voting system includes a Ballot Marking Device that lets voters click on a touch screen, press buttons on a tactile handheld device, or make voice commands to cast ballots. It would also be able to “read” Interactive Sample Ballots on smartphones.

Another novel idea is to create a 10-day early voting period and allow voters to go to any conveniently located Vote Center to cast their ballot, instead of limiting them to a specific polling place on Election Day. Also being rolled out are an Electronic Pollbook that would replace paper rosters for checking in voters, and Vote-by-Mail ballots that are easier to understand.

The County purposely made the engineering specifications, intellectual property and functional prototypes to be nonproprietary and remain in the public domain, so that other jurisdictions can take advantage of the data for upgrading their own voting systems.

County Library Bookmark Design Winners

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All photos by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas awarded scrolls to four young winners from the Second District who competed in the Public Library’s 37th annual bookmark design contest.

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Library Director Skye Patrick

First grader Shania Phillip, fifth grader Sashia Maas, eighth grader Itzel Martinez and high school senior Jenifer Sid will have their artwork printed on bookmarks that will be distributed across the public library system, parks and community centers countywide.

Shania, who wants to be an artist when she grows up, entered the contest at the Wiseburn Library in Hawthorne. So did Sashia, who considers The Little Match Girl her favorite book.

Itzel entered the contest at the Compton Library and looks forward to being an animator. College-bound Jenifer is a patron of Lynwood Library and wants to major in illustration so she can become a concept designer for games and movies.

“Libraries build readers. Who become thinkers. Who become doers,” said county Library Director Skye Patrick.

In all, 20 students – four in each of the five supervisorial districts – won this year’s contest, which had the theme: “Read for the fun of it.” More than 10,000 students submitted entries.

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