LOS ANGELES — The McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour has entered its 15th year and is a key fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
McDonald’s bringing gospel to the community has roots in Southern California, as it began with a suggestion from Lindsay Hughes, who owns and operates two McDonald’s in South Los Angeles.
“McDonald’s wanted to give back to the Black community, and I raised my hand and suggested taking our customers to church,” Hughes said. “That was in 1985 and here we are still bringing communities together through gospel 38 years later.”
Hughes launched the Gospel Fest in Los Angeles shortly after.
The Gospel Fest was only a local activity and was later replaced by the McDonald’s national gospel activation, the Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour that is held today. Hughes now serves as an ambassador for the event.
Hughes is from Watts, and recalls working in McDonald’s while Ray Kroc was still involved in the company’s day-to-day operations.
“Mr. Kroc always wanted us [franchise owners] to give back and I’ve been a part of the McDonald’s family for 52 years,” Hughes said.
“We’ve given kids their first jobs and now their grandkids work for me,” he added. “We do a lot of good through McDonald’s where we teach accounting, logistics, marketing and real estate.”
The Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour is an extension of McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden campaign, which shines a light on everyday people making a difference in their communities through positivity and empowerment.
Since 2012, the Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour has helped raise more than $1.08 million for local Ronald McDonald’s House Charities Chapters.
“Gospel music is food for the soul: it stays with you and makes you feel good,” Hughes said.
“Our Gospel Fest had the support of artists that learned their talents in church, which is the foundation of all genres of music,” Hughes said. “Lou Rawls and Barry White were early supporters of the program.”
Hughes recalls selling out the venue the inaugural year, with the music fest initially being housed at the Wiltern Theatre before moving to the Shrine Auditorium.
“Because of the pandemic, this year’s program was held virtually 9it aired on BET Sept. 26), and I look forward to going back inside, once it’s safe to do so,” Hughes said. “Blacks spend a lot of money on McDonald’s products and using the tour to raise money helps put money back into the community.”
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.