By Najee Ali
I did not realize it, but I have written this blog for several years now. I have covered everything and all things South Los Angeles and of importance to the Black community.
This is the most difficult piece I have written so far. I do not know how to soften the blow, so I must just give it too everyone straight.
Eduardo Soriano Hewitt, who I have known for well over two decades and is not just my close friend but he is like my little brother, is facing a major health challenge. Edo, as he is affectionately called by family and friends, will have open heart surgery next week.
I spoke to him this week as he was at Los Angeles City Hall retrieving some items from his office where he is on the staff of City Councilman. Edo seemed upbeat, positive and in good spirits.
He explained to me that he was found to have an abnormal heartbeat after experiencing chest pains. He said his health condition is similar to former USC and Loyola Marymount basketball standout Hank Gaithers, who tragically died in 1990 during an NCAA playoff game. Gaither collapsed on the basketball court and died.
I was immediately shaken. What Edo did not know is Gaithers was also a friend of mine. We played basketball together on the SC Campus North Gym every weekday at lunch hour. Gaithers’ death had a deep impact on me. His future was bright with being a guaranteed first round NBA pick and the next thing you know Gaithers he was lying dead on the basketball court.
Edo has been married for only five years to the love of his life, Naima. They have been blessed with two beautiful children, daughter Ella and son Evan. As soon as we hung up, I immediately began to pray his surgery would be successful.
But not before I reminded him of his lineage and his own importance to this city. Edo is the son of activists Raymond “Masai” Hewitt and Ester Soriano. Hewitt was a legendary Black activist and one of the leading members of the Black Panther Party. Before joining the Black Panther Party, he worked as a schoolteacher.
Hewitt joined the Black Panther Party in 1967 and was given the title of minister of education. The Black Panther Party was one of the premier Black organizations in the nation when Hewitt was in his leadership and after internal difficulties caused Hewitt to resign from the Panther Party in the ’70s his activism didn’t stop nor did his dedication to the community.
He joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference L.A. Chapter and was a dedicated activist working with other community groups until his untimely death in 1988 at only 47.
So, for those who do not know Edo, political and social activism is in his DNA. He is a foot soldier.
I can remember in 2002 walking in the rain with him and Mark Ridley-Thomas who was then a candidate for the state Assembly. We all walked in the rain until we were done passing out campaign literature.
When we were done, I caught a ride home from Edo who first stopped to check on an aunt who lived in South L.A. His aunt had dementia and did not remember him, But nonetheless, he always checked on her.
That was the first signal to me this kid is special.
Edo, a longtime member of First AME Church, would continue his political work after the successful Ridley-Thomas campaign City Hall for more than 20 years. No one knows that building like Edo, who has worked for Ridley-Thomas, Councilmen Bernard Parks, Tony Cardenas, Eric Garcetti, Gil Cedillo, Jose Huizar, and now de León. What always amazed me is that Edo is Black. He has been employed by several city council members who are not Black.
They recognized that Edo is a like a chameleon. In his work in the political arena, he has gotten the job done for constituents not just in South L.A. but all over the city. He is from South L.A., born and raised, but his skill sets and personality has allowed him to walk in any hood from South L.A.to the East L.A. with respect from the shot callers to the corridors of power in City Hall.
I remember working with him almost every day when then-Councilman Eric Garcetti first announced his bid for mayor. We were members of team Garcetti from day one.
I watched Edo give it his all as we essentially did some type of volunteer campaign work seven days a week for months. Garcetti was not just his boss, he was his friend.
As I fought my battle with cancer a few years ago, Edo was there for me. Now it is time for the city of L.A. to be there for him and his family as he faces the greatest crisis in his life. I am asking everyone to keep him and his family in prayer. We have lost too much in 2020. We cannot lose Edo.
Final endorsements for next week’s election:
Juanita Doplemore for Paramount Unified School Board. She is a longtime resident of North Long Beach and the Paramount Unified School District. She has a wealth of experience to ensure students receive a quality education. Doplemore has been the target of racially motivated political attacks by her opponents. Doplemeore has the better resume and skill sets to lead. But in a school district that is not majority African American, her opponents want to count her out. If I were voting, I would want the best candidate to serve my children and community and that’s Doplemore.
A California student aid commissioner and youth advocate, she has hosted several college fair events as part of her responsibilities as a commissioner because she knows creating opportunities for our youth to advance themselves is essential. I am hoping voters will choose whose best for their children and not choose ethnicity first.
Other endorsement include: L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon, L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell,
L.A. City Council District 4 David Ryu, L.A. City Council District 10 Mark Ridley-Thomas and President of the United States of America Joseph R. Biden.
On the state ballot propositions, here are my endorsements: Prop. 14 – Yes, Prop. 15 – Yes, Prop. 16 – Yes, Prop. 17 – Yes, Prop. 18 – Yes, Prop. 19 – Yes, Prop. 20 – No, Prop. 21 – Yes, Prop. 22 – Yes, Prop. 23 – Yes, Prop. 24 – Yes, Prop. 25 – No, it is not a solution. If it passes it will need reform.