SCV Arts & Entertainment | Shane Vereen Tribute
By Gloria Locke
A celebration of accomplishment, arising with Vereen’s success as a Santa Clarita young scholar athlete with a 4.0 grade point average at Valencia High School to obtaining a degree in Media from Cal Berkley, and forging ahead to become the first SCV resident to win a Super Bowl Championship. It is a victory in sports history, Santa Clarita history, and Santa Clarita African-American history.
“Not many communities have hometown heroes and Santa Clarita certainly has a lot of them, but he’s our first Super Bowl winner. Not only is he a great athlete but he’s also a great human-being, and he was a great scholar,” said Terri Crain, CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Hundreds attending the luncheon represented a healthy cross-section of Santa Clarita’s richly diverse population, which focused on family, integrity, excellence, education, and hard work as a game plan for success. Vereen attributed much to his parents for instilling the ethics that have culminated in his achievements. First cousin to actor, Ben Vereen, Shane was born and raised in Valencia. He attended Valencia High School maintaining a 4.0 GPA while excelling in football, basketball, and track. In college, Vereen chose a Media major to help prepare him for a career after the NFL. According to Vereen, his future plans fluctuate but says his plans will be sports related.
“A lot of times people use the term “NFL – Not for Long” and I kind of took that to heart. My mother took that to heart more than anybody,” said Vereen.
Patriots’ victory behind him, Vereen now heads to the New York Giants. His younger brother, Brock, also raised to excel, returns to the Chicago Bears. Venita Vereen offers advice to young sports families:
“Remember that kids are kids. Sports are fun but it’s not supposed to be their job at this young age. Let them be kids, let them play all sports, and remind them school is far more important than any sports they are playing,” she said.
Shane Vereen also champions the fight against childhood cancer by donating proceeds to L.A. Children’s Hospital from events, such as the luncheon and by hosting a football camp.
Curt Sandoval, Weekend Sports Anchor for KABC7, described his own recent experience with cancer and the efforts to raise money for local resident, Connor Coughenour, of the Warriors league. It was Connor’s first time hearing Vereen speak. What did he like most?
“Just when he told you to believe in yourself,” said Coughenour.
There is an online donation page for Team Connor at http://www.gofundme.com/love4connor.
“We can all be very proud of our young people here in Santa Clarita as is evidenced by Shane and his accomplishments,” said Marsha McLean, Mayor of the City of Santa Clarita.
The City of Santa Clarita, incorporated December 1987, had a very different landscape. A population of 110,642 in 1990 has now become the third largest city in the county of Los Angeles, with a population of nearly 216,000 in December 2014, according to the City’s website. Santa Clarita has also grown in character and quality due to the continued contributions of its citizens from various walks of life. Parents and children attending the event were inspired to continue toward a mark of excellence, a spirit of humility, and to work hard. The tribute served as a historical reminder – which, according to the SCV Chamber president, may not have taken place without the perseverance of SCVTV Sportscaster, Dave Caldwell.
Looking to the future, may Santa Clarita families continue to raise up “First and Famous” contributors. Notwithstanding, this is a documentation reflects first and famous African-Americans who have helped shape a bright future for Santa Clarita. They have inspired others to lend their gifts and talents to benefit the community, and some, like Shane Vereen, may have inspired the world.
Admittedly, the list below is incomplete and may never be complete in light of the many unsung heroes who quietly serve their families and the community. We thank all who strive to make contributions and welcome additional names, accolades, and information to update this beginning research. **Key to the city recipients:
Louis Brathwaite – Resided in the Santa Clarita Valley from 1969 until his death in 2001. He was the first African-American elected to a local political office as a school board member. In 1987, Brathwaite became the first African-American appointed to the Planning Commission and greatly impacted local develop decisions for the future of the City. Brathwaite also served on the board for the SCV Senior Center creating the Bouquet Canyon Senior housing. He served on the board for the SCV Boys & Girls Club. Brathwaite was a strong advocate of the arts and completed his autobiography one week prior to his death, “Black Man’s Job, White Man’s World.”
Austin Dave – Chief of Video and Audio Operations at the Signal newspaper. Austin Dave is the first African-American web designer and computer programmer for SCVTV and Cougar News at College of the Canyons, He is a graduate of Golden Valley High School.
**Lashinda Demus – Track and field Olympic medalist winning a silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles. Demus was awarded the key to the city after the 2012 Olympic Games.
Reverend Samuel Dixon – Founded the first Samuel Dixon Family Health Center over 30 years ago in Val Verde, CA by converting the annex of his church into a health center (1980). Funding for the center operations were provided by partnerships with corporations such as Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation, Santa Monica Hospital, Kiwanis and Rotary members to provide low-income health care for families who would otherwise have no means to obtain medical services. Rev. Samuel Dixon died in 1980 during the initial construction but his vision forged ahead to create health care centers in Newhall, Canyon Country and Val Verde serving Santa Clarita residents.
**Anthony Ervin – A Hart High graduate, Ervin is the first of African-American/Native American and Jewish heritage named to the US Olympic Swim Team. He then became the first to of African-American heritage to obtain an Olympic gold medal in swimming. He was 18 years old at the time. Ervin continued to become a 2x World Champion and World Record holder. At the age of 33, he became one of the oldest members of the 2012 US Olympic Swim Team, notwithstanding, he won a silver medal. Ervin is currently a member of the US National team preparing for the 2016 Olympic trials. Ervin was awarded the key to the city in 2012 after the Olympic Games.
**Allyson Felix – Track and field Olympic and World Champion medalist. . At age 18, she won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic Games. In 2007, Felix gained four Olympic gold medals, two silver medals, and three World Championship gold medals. Felix was awarded the key to the city after the 2012 Olympic Games.
Julius Harper – Lead pastor of Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship, first African-American to produce and host a televised ministry program in Santa Clarita.
Roosevelt Johnson – In 2014, Roosevelt Johnson was promoted to Captain of the Santa Clarita Valley Station. Captain Johnson is a veteran of over 20 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a Santa Clarita resident.
Jacques Anthony LaBerge – In 2009, “Anthony” La Berge was promoted to Chief of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department overseeing operations in Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Palmdale, Altadena, Crescenta Valley, East Los Angeles, Malibu/Lost Hills, and Temple stations. Chief LaBerge is a resident of Santa Clarita and has over 30 years of service with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
Gloria Locke – First African-American to produce a radio show and the first African-American to produce a television show in Santa Clarita, SCV-Arts & Entertainment. She is the first African-American multimedia journalist to produce video and write content for SCVNews.com, The Signal, and Our Valley Magazine. She is the first African-American to open an arts studio for instruction and facilitation of visual and performing artists.
**Alysia Montano – middle distance runner, she is a five-time USA Outdoor champion. Montano graduated from Canyon High in 2004 (as Alysia Johnson). Montano was awarded the key to the city after the 2012 Olympic Games.
Eddie Murray – Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003. Career highlights of 504 home runs, 3,255 hits, and 19 grand slams are among his accomplishments before he began coaching in 2003. Murray became co-owner of the first Mercedes-Benz dealership in Santa Clarita, opening December 2005.
Edward “Ed” Redd – First African-American appointed as a Parks & Recreation Commissioner in 2002 where he served until his death in 2010. Redd was also a strong advocate of the arts serving on Santa Clarita’s Arts Advisory steering committee to increase multicultural arts education programs reflecting Santa Clarita’s diverse population.
Naya Rivera – Television icon and singing star, most recognized for her starring role in the Fox hit series “Glee.” Rivera was raised in Santa Clarita and is a Valencia High graduate.
Marlon Saunders – Senior pastor and founder of Valencia Christian Center, the largest African-American congregation in Santa Clarita.
Felicia T. Sheppard – Television show host on “Talkin’ with Felicia” airing on SCVTV.
Morris Thomas – First African-American publisher of the Signal newspaper. Morris Thomas served as the interim publisher and general manager of the publication from 2009 to 2011 at which time he was appointed District Director for Senator Howard “Buck” McKeon serving from 2012 to 2015.
**Jim Ventress – Came to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1985 becoming the president of the SCV Boys & Girls Club serving in that capacity for 29 years (1985 – 2014). Ventress headed the planning of the Newhall Club and Sierra Vista Jr. High Club. In addition to mentoring thousands of Santa Clarita youth, Ventress assisted in the creation of the Day for Kids and the Haunted Jailhouse event held at the SCV Sheriff’s station. Ventress was awarded the key to the city in 2014.
**Shane Vereen – Born and raised in Valencia, Vereen, the iconic #34, was the starting running back of the New England Patriots, champions at 2015 Super Bowl XLIX. He is now with the NY Giants. He is the first SCV resident to become a Super Bowl champion. Vereen was awarded the key to the city on March 26, 2015.
Bob and Gloria Locke have been residents of Santa Clarita since 1993. Together they have raised three children and have three grandchildren residing in Santa Clarita. They are co-producers of SCV-Arts & Entertainment airing on SCVTV Channel 20, Friday and Sunday evenings. The Lockes celebrate 30 years of marriage on March 30, 2015.©2015 SCV Arts & Entertainment | SCVTV