For Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech has been a source of inspiration dating back to her childhood.

“I have watched that speech so many times throughout my life. I felt like I was there,” said Lacey, who was the keynoter at Southern California Edison’s (SCE) 12th Annual Black History Month celebration recently in Irwindale where about 400 people were in attendance.

Lacey is the first African-American elected L.A. County district attorney since the office was created in 1850. More than 50 years after King’s historic speech, she believes the country is now witnessing those memorable words in which African-Americans are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

She pointed to the achievements of African-Americans such as California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Andre Birotte, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, Ronald L. Brown, Los Angeles County public defender, and herself as success stories that would not have been possible 50 years ago.

“I believe we’re witnessing in many respects that part of the dream,” she said.

But while there have been brighter days, Lacey also warned that Dr. King’s dream is threatened. Declining enrollments of African-Americans in law schools and increases in the number of males incarcerated put the future of African-American leadership achievements over the next 50 years at-risk.

She urged audience members to be leaders and mentor young African-Americans to pursue public service careers in the justice system, noting Edison International’s support of minority youth through its generous scholarship program.

“It’s time for us to take a leadership role to ensure the dream moves forward and that others boosted by our help also have the opportunity to achieve and perhaps make history yet again,” said Lacey.

SCE’s “Celebrating Business & Community Partnerships” Black History Month event also recognized the accomplishments of local African-American businesses and leaders for their contributions to economic growth and as energy-efficiency champions. 

YWCA Greater Los Angeles received the Community Partnership Award, accepted by Faye Washington, president and CEO. Under her leadership, the organization’s headquarters is now a $77 million state-of-the-art high-rise building in downtown Los Angeles. The organization provides such services as health care, child care, programs for seniors and job training. SCE partners with YWCA Greater Los Angeles through grants and sponsorships of their community support programs throughout SCE’s service territory. 

SCE’s Diverse Business Enterprise Award went to SL Hare Capital Investment Bankers, an L.A.-based investment banking firm who has partnered with SCE for more than five years. In its first three years, the financial firm has participated in approximately $1.4 billion of SCE’s corporate debt offerings while co-managing various transactions totaling $77 billion.

“Southern California Edison’s Black History Month celebration is a way to celebrate the achievements of African Americans, pay special tribute to the inventors who have had a lasting impact on science, technology, our industry and promote Edison’s energy efficiency programs,” said Lisa Cagnolatti, SCE vice president, Business Customer Division, and the event’s host.

“We recognize that our business and community partnerships are critical to our success,” she added. “We value diversity because we know that when groups of people who come from different backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences join together, innovation and creativity are at its best — and that’s what we have at SCE.” 

The Imperial Heights Community Church of the Brethren in Los Angeles received this year’s Energy Efficiency Participation Award. By replacing more than 80 incandescent lamps and fixtures with energy-efficient linear fluorescents, the church was able to reduce its energy consumption and lower its energy bills.

Jaylin Miller, an eighth-grader at Marshall Fundamental School in Pasadena, received a certificate of appreciation from Janet Clayton, senior vice president of Corporate Communications on behalf of SCE and its parent company Edison International. Miller, an active YWCA volunteer, recited a speech about trailblazers who have made it possible for women and young girls like her to achieve their dreams.

Upcoming SCE Black History Month Events:

  • Feb. 21, Energy Education Center in Tulare
  • Feb. 28, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Networkers Employee Resource Group, 29th Annual Black History Month Celebration, honoring "The Civil Rights Movement," SCE headquarters in Rosemead