Private clubs and groups have been around for centuries. Originally, they were created for the privileged and to help keep a tight circle closed. The opportunities that come from being associated with certain groups or clubs are many, but it is sad when people who have the same credentials are blocked due to their gender, or the color of their skin and it is despicable. Mayor Tom Bradley was the first African American to become Mayor of Los Angeles in 1973 and he retired in 1993. During his tenure as mayor, although he could enter certain private clubs across Los Angeles, he was not allowed to be a member. The City Club of Los Angeles changed all of that. Not only did they allow him to become a member they welcomed him with open arms.
The City Club of LA opened its doors in 1989. The opportunity for people of color to be part of this world was opened. The process for membership in private clubs is to be invited by an existing member, but you must have diversity to help make this happen if you want a variety of members. In the early 1990’s I was able to join the City Club of Los Angeles with my first husband. We were invited to join by Attorney Clifton Albright. It was an amazing experience for me because many things happened to me while I was a member. Fellow member Don Bailey, a McDonald’s franchise owner, after meeting me invited me to apply for an opening with the McDonald Owners of Southern California Association as an event planner. I was also approached by Larry Ahlquist (who was the General Manager of the City Club at the time) to help create a committee for women of the club to have a voice. The group became known as City Connections.
On October 24th the City Club held its Founder’s Day Luncheon honoring for the first time posthumously some of the first members of the club. The City Club of LA was and still is committed to diversity. During the luncheon, they paid homage to both former Mayor Tom Bradley and former City Councilman David S. Cunningham, Jr., as founding members, and they also honored current Mayor Karen Bass, the first woman and African American woman to be mayor of Los Angeles. As the niece of David S. Cunningham, Jr., I am proud he was able to make history by being part of the founding members of the City Club of Los Angeles.
In 1987 as mayor, Tom Bradley signed a bill to ban discrimination at large private clubs based on sex, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability. What I appreciate is that the City Club went out of its way to recruit women and people of color before it was even accepted. Because of their commitment, I recently decided to re-up my membership and become a member once again. It is not easy going against the grain and being the first to change the game.
What doors are you willing to help open that can help others have access to places and opportunities that are currently closed to them? Are you willing to go against the grain and fabric of society even if it is not popular? It is up to each of us to do our part to make a change if we want to see change. We cannot leave it up to others when the opportunity is within our reach. Thank you, City Club of LA, for welcoming those who previously were not invited to sit at the table. I feel like I have come back home. #CoachWendy #SeasonofGreatness #CityClub #FoundersDay
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