LOS ANGELES, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the City Council, and business and community leaders launched a month of cultural events honoring African-American history and culture at the City’s annual African-American Heritage Month celebration. This year the City of Los Angeles honored Sheryl Lee Ralph, Walter Mosley, and Dr. Keith Black.

The heritage month themed “Stepping Back Into The Future,” began with a ceremony inside Council Chambers and also recognized the 20th Anniversary of the Pan African Film Festival and the work of Our Authors Study Club.

“The City of Los Angeles is proud to recognize three uniquely talented individuals whose lasting contributions have left a mark on both the African-American community and our broader society,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We recognize those whose spirit and accomplishments embody this heritage month and inspire the next generation to achieve greatness.”

The Spirit of Los Angeles was awarded to Sheryl Lee Ralph – the original DREAMGIRL, a role which earned her a Tony Award Nomination and a Drama Desk Award Nomination for Best Actress. Her career includes an award-winning body of work in film, television and the Broadway stage. Walter Mosley, a critically acclaimed and award-winning New York Times-bestselling author was honored with the Dream of Los Angeles award. Mosley’s books have been published around the world and translated into twenty-three languages. The Hope of Los Angeles honoree, Dr. Keith Black, is an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and scientist. Dr. Black is Chairman and Professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, Director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, and Director of the Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

During the event, Mayor Villaraigosa unveiled the 2012 African American Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs. The ceremony was followed by food and live entertainment at the Triforium, a public sculpture in the Los Angeles Mall Civic Center Complex adjacent to City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles.

African American Heritage Month launches a month-long calendar of cultural events and a Poster Contest open to all Los Angeles County students (grades K-12) that encourages the creation of original artwork based on their interpretation of the 2012 African American Heritage Month’s theme. Poster competition winners will be announced February 29, 2012 (tentative).

A list of all activities and events is available at For more information, call (213) 922-9762, or follow us on Facebook at