For Immediate Release         November 13, 2009  


Roland Betts honored

Roland Hayes Betts, a longtime community activist and the founder of Charles Drew University’s “Jazz at Drew”, was honored Thursday (Nov. 12) at Recycling Black Dollar’s 21st Annual Positive Side Award and Dinner Fundraiser.

Betts, one of several honorees at the gala event at the Crown Plaza Hotel LAX, was presented with the “Leon Garr Lifetime Achievement Award,” named after a Louisiana native who built a business empire that included construction, real estate holdings, education facilities and banking.

Born on Sept. 11, 1941, Betts was raised in Chicago. He was 17 when he volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corp.  In the mid 1960’s, he attended Pepperdine College on a full athletic scholarship. Later, back home in Chicago, he became involved in the open housing movement and then became a staff member and field organizer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In 1971, he moved to Los Angeles and soon took a job as community liaison officer for The Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School. During more than 30 years at Drew, he served in a number of capacities, including, for nearly two decades, founder and executive producer of “Jazz at Drew” Annual Scholarship Fund Raiser.

In announcing the awards, Willie Fann, executive director of Recycling Black Dollars, said the evening celebration would continue the legacy of the organization’s founder, the late Muhammad Nassardeen.

“Muhammad believed that those who are doing outstanding things in our community should be presented and show-cased to those who may not be familiar with them outside of their industry,” Fann said. “He liked to call them ‘Models of Possibility’ and present them at The Annual Positive Side Award Dinner and Fundraiser.”
In addition to Betts, Recycling Black Dollars honored City Councilman Bernard Parks and his wife Bobbie Parks, Charmaine Jefferson, executive director of the California African American Museum, Pastor Frederick Price, Jr., Crenshaw Christian Center, Albert A. Stephens, Purchasing Manager, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Percell Keeling, owner, Simply Wholesome Restaurant; and Wren T. Brown, Founder/Producer, Ebony Repertory Theater.

RBD’s mission is to aid in the economic development of the African American community by encouraging support of Black businesses. RBD targets organizations, churches and Fortune 500 corporations in an effort to encourage vending and contract opportunities for Black businesses. They work with banks and other funding organizations to provide capital for the development and expansion of the Black business community. RBD is also committed to providing ongoing training seminars for entrepreneurial youth.


  For more information, please contact:
John L. Mitchell
Media Advisor at
Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science
Telephone: (323) 563-4981 or cell (323) 681-4225

1731 East 120th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90059
p 323 563 4987  f 323 563 5987

Pioneering in Health and Education