President’s Award-Winner: Makeda “Dread” Cheatom

Makeda “Dread” Cheatom grew up in San Diego, CA and has dedicated her life to music, art, culture and well being.

In 1971, she opened the first vegetarian restaurant and international cultural center in San Diego, the world-famous, Prophet Vegetarian Restaurant. The Prophet collaborated with many international health advocates like Dick Gregory and Dr Bronner. Makeda later met Bob Marley and began her music career as a promoter and has been coined to of brought reggae to Southern California. For over 25 years Makeda hosted, Bob Marley Day at the San Diego Sports Arena. In 1989, she established WorldBeat Cultural Center, a non-profit multi-cultural center in Balboa Park where she is the Executive Director.


For over 30 years Makeda has hosted her own radio show, Reggae Makossa and was recently approved a community low powered FM station, 101.1FM (KVIB).


Makeda has also founded WorldBeat Center’s Children’s Ethnobotany Peace Garden which is used as an Outdoor Classroom to bring families outdoors and teach children of the origins of their food and science. The garden’s educational programming has also recently been awarded grants by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Science Foundation. One of the NSF grants she participated was a four year research project, ​Examining Contextual Factors Influencing the Implementation of Projects Designed to Improve Cultural Diversity in Informal STEM Programming​. Currently, she is working as a Principle Investigator on a 3 year NSF grant project with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on noise pollution in underserved communities across the country. Over the years Makeda’s vision and work has been able to bring children of low-income families to the garden and create environmental stewards.


Some of her awards include: Channel 10 Leadership Award, Project Concern International, the Palava Tree for Arts & Culture among others. Makeda was also been inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame as a Cultural Bridge Builder, was named “San Diego Trailblazer” by the African American Heritage Foundation and has been recognized as one of the 25 most influential women in San Diego’s history by San Diego’s 10 News viewers. In 2016 she was awarded the KPBS San Diego Local Hero Award. July 2017 she received the Jan Merrit Leadership Award by San Diego Unified School District TRACE Program and March 2018 Women of the Year Award by CA State 78th Assembly District.

Throughout her life she has traveled to 4 continents and will be visiting her 5th in 2019 and 2020 where she plans to collaborate in tours to Ghana and Ethiopia. Makeda believes music, art, dance and culture will unite all races, all cultures, and all people across the world.