Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Crenshaw High student's quest for a White House visit also leads to the DNC

Mia Henry

Ashley Myers-Turner/KPCC

Mia Henry prepares to go to the Democratic National Convention.

A recent Crenshaw High grad is one of the youngest delegates representing California at this week’s Democratic National Convention.

Mia Henry, 18, of Los Angeles, was among a group of Crenshaw freshmen students asking each other in Jan. 2009 why their high school was not among those represented at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. She and eight other students were part of teacher Daphne Bradford's digital media program. 

Their discussion, with Bradford's guidance, turned into a quest for an invitation to the White House. It took more than a year and lots of unanswered letters and calls, but finally the group made it to Washington in 2010.

"We had a tour of the White House and we also met Sam Kass, the White House chef, and Reggie Love, who at the time was President Obama’s right-hand man," Henry said. The group also met with the White House Web team and Jenny Kaplan, head of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
"My favorite part of the time was being in Mrs. Michelle Obama’s garden. We saw everything they were growing, their own beehive and their own honey,” Henry said.

They didn’t meet the Obamas, which was disappointing. But they co-wrote a book, “Journey to the White House.” 

Henry and another student, Trestan Fairweather, parlayed that project — and the contacts they made performing multimedia tasks for the political group Organize For America — into another invitation.  

Fairweather and Henry are attending the Democratic National Convention as two of the youngest delegates from California. They, and teacher Bradford, who is accompanying them, will tweet their adventure using hashtag #Crenshaw2DNC.

She doesn’t consider herself a political person, but something about seeing Barack Obama run for president four years ago made her want to be part of that world, Hery said.

“I knew he could win. I had faith in him," Henry said. “It was just ... an eye-opener. Because I guess they have the stereotype of black people wanting to be like sports, basketball and football players. When I saw him, I thought, that’s not what we’re all about — we can be something totally higher.” 

Henry described herself as quiet, but said she’s got a take-charge demeanor.

She joined the Crenshaw High School digital media class with the idea of becoming a crime scene photographer. But now, as a freshman studying criminal justice at Cal State University Dominguez Hills, she has set her sights higher:

"I wanted to do something, not just take pictures, but solve the crime," she added. Henry said the message she takes from President Obama is to work through the barriers and be tenacious.

"If you have a dream, go towards your dream, don’t give up," she said. "If you have a goal and you hit a road block, you don’t have to stop. Just keep going.”


3 steps to chairing a convention: Mayor Villaraigosa on being DNC chairman

Ashley Myers-Turner/KPCC

File photo of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in Los Angeles this past April.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was elected to chair the Democratic National Convention in February.

The chairman of the Democratic National Convention holds a lot of responsibility, but he said the job description is simple. The three steps, according to Villaraigosa:

1. Bang the gavel

2. Preside over the business of the convention

3. Oversee the nomination of the president and the vice president

Taking charge of the event and the people involved is one matter, but taming Mother Nature is another. Charlotte's been hit by a series of thunderstorms, with more rain and storms predicted for the rest of the week. That might affect President Obama's Thursday night speech at an outdoor stadium.

Villaraigosa said if it rains, the show must go on. "We’ll just have to make do," he said.


Maven's Morning Coffee: Trutanich receives donations, South LA loses trees, John Deasy gets profiled

Carmen Trutanich

Roberto (Bear) Guerra/KPCC

The Los Angeles Times looks at Live Nation Entertainment's donations to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, which come as Nuch goes after illegal scalpers.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Tuesday, Sept. 4, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Executives with Live Nation Entertainment have contributed $18,000 to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, at a time when the city attorney is going after illegal scalpers, reports the Los Angeles Times. The donations date back to 2009.

About 400 trees will be chopped down in South Los Angeles so the Space Shuttle Endeavour can reach its new home at the California Science Center, according to the Los Angeles Times. "They are cutting down these really big, majestic trees. It will be beyond my lifetime before they will be tall like this again," said one Leimert Park resident.


Baseball and politics: Trash talking about Dodgers-Giants at the DNC

Dodger Stadium

Grant Slater/KPCC

The NL West pennant race is causing a playful rift in the California delegation at the DNC

There was lots of trash talking at Monday's California delegation meeting. Not just about the GOP, but about the Dodgers and Giants.

It might be cast as the usual SF/LA rivalry, but it's a bit more than that. Particularly since the woman who helped deliver the Dodgers to L.A. from Brooklyn is in the house.

Roz Wyman is a lifelong Democrat and party bigwig. Dianne Feinstein stays at her house when she's in LA. But back when she was a 20-something kid just out of college, Wyman won a seat on the L.A. City Council. She and Kenneth Hahn spearheaded the drive to bring the team west. Her good friend, former American Film Institute chief Jean Firstenberg, is also at the Democratic National Convention and is also a Dodger fan.

State party chairman John Burton is also a baseball fan — specifically a Giants fan. And the Dodgers are 4 1/2 games behind the Giants. Or, as L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra put it: "The Giants are kicking some butt." He promised his beloved Dodgers were "going to make it a race." And one way or another, he predicted, "California's going to win the World Series."


Meet a pair of California DNC delegate brothers who want a more progressive party

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Dante, left, and David Atkins are brothers and progressive Democrats from Southern California who are delegates at the Democratic National Convention

They look alike, they talk alike, and though they're not twins, they are united in a mission: move the Democratic Party farther to the left.

Delegates David Atkins of Ventura and Dante Atkins of Los Angeles say they’ve always had political inclinations. David said they were “always excited to get our sample ballots from the time we were 12 years old. And we would go and mark them up. It was hilarious.”

The pair started writing their opinions online about a decade ago, then got involved with Howard Dean's presidential campaign. Since then, the duo has been working within the party itself, trying to embody what Dean described as the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” David expresses frustration at what he calls “old school” local party structure that rarely champions progressive values.