Makeda Dread Cheatom
Makeda Dread Cheatom buit positive cultural awareness in the San Diego community as the creator of the World Beat Cultural Center in Balboa Park. Makeda dedicated herself to promoting, presenting, and preserving African and indigenous cultures through music, art, dance, education, and technology.
Makeda's parents moved from Texas to San Diego when she was three months old, seeking better opportunities. While she did not have an easy childhood, women in her neighborhood served as mentors and filled her with the understanding that she came from a strong culture and had the innate power to be somebody. At thirteen, Makeda knew she wanted to open a restaurant. She studied culinary arts at community college and in 1971 opened San Diego's first vegetarian restaurant, the Prophet Vegetarian. The restaurant was a place where the community could come together and where cultural awareness was promoted. Makeda also was a pioneer in promoting meditation and yoga in San Diego.
In 1985, Makeda's desire to further expose the people of San Diego to local and global diversity resulted in the birth of the World Beat Cultural Center, a place where culture, music, food, and dance from around the world came together in a learning environment. As Makeda explained, "It is a world within a building," to serve the community at large as well as at-risk and differently-abled children.A year before opening the World Beat Cultural Center, Makeda had created the Adams Avenue Theatre as a venue for music, dance, and film. She brought dance companies from South Africa, Nigeria, New Guinea, and Jamaica, as well anti-apartheid film festivals to San Diego audiences.Makeda obtained her degree in telecommunications and became one of only a few women DJs on radio and the online station OneWorldReggae.com. She also produced the World Beat Live show. Makeda educated the diverse communities of San Diego and embodied the essence of a Multicultural Bridge Builder.