John Mack, Los Angeles civil rights pioneer, remembered by community

ByCarlos Granda and staff KABC logo
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Funeral held for LA civil rights pioneer John Mack
Services were held Tuesday for Los Angeles civil rights pioneer John Mack, who died last month at the age of 81.

CRENSHAW, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Services were held Tuesday for Los Angeles civil rights pioneer John Mack, who died last month at the age of 81.

More than 2,000 people gathered to remember the life and legacy of Mack with a funeral service that began at 11 a.m. at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ on Crenshaw Boulevard.

Prominent city officials who spoke at the funeral include retired LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LAPD Chief Michel Moore and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. Retired NBA player and president of basketball operations of the L.A. Lakers Magic Johnson also delivered a tribute to the late civic leader.

"Activism on the streets is always where things start, but there are few activists who will have the courage sometimes to cross that street, to, yes, build the coalition but also to lead the commission," shared Garcetti.

Mack died of cancer on June 21 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was remembered as a man of great strength.

"He worked tirelessly. I call him our modern-day Hamilton. He wrote and wrote and always was there for the community," said Pat Harris of the Urban League.

Mack's grandchildren talked about how his life affected them and so many in L.A. He was one of the city's most influential leaders during some very tumultuous years.

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He served as president of the Los Angeles Urban League from 1969 until his retirement in 2005, promoting issues of employment, education and economic development.

The Urban League became one of the country's most successful nonprofit organizations with Mack in charge, generating an annual budget of $25 million during his tenure.

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Mack also co-founded Los Angeles Black Leadership Coalition on Education in 1977 and was later appointed vice president of the United Way Corporation of Council Executives.

Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa named Mack president of the board of Police Commissioners of the Los Angeles Police Department in 2005.

Mack received awards from numerous institutions, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Operation Hope, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the California Afro American Museum.