Black Los Angeles
American Dreams and Racial Realities
Publication Year: 2010
“The book brings together the research interests of what Hunt describes as an ‘all‒star team’ of contributors, most but not all of them academics with strong California connections. Comprising 17 short to medium‒length essays, it pivots from data‒rich analyses of how the black community’s 20th century demographic center gradually has shifted from Central Avenue to Leimert Park, to interview‒driven, anecdotal accounts of the rise and decline of Venice’s Oakwood neighborhood and a revealing chronicle of the black‒owned SOLAR (Sounds of Los Angeles Records), a late ‘70s‒early ‘80s hit‒making machine for groups including the Whispers, Shalamar and Klymaxx.”
Published by: NYU Press
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An original volume of this scope would have been impossible to produce without the input of dozens of scholars and community stakeholders. Throughout this eight-year project, we indeed have been fortunate to benefit from such input, particularly from our contributors, to whom we are deeply...
Introduction: Dreaming of Black Los Angeles
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So begins a typical episode of Black Entertainment Television’s Baldwin Hills,1 a scripted “reality” program that debuted on the black-oriented cable network in 2007. Developed by a white production company,2 Baldwin Hills was among BET’s most popular shows in 2007. It was seen in nearly 1 million black homes...
PART 1. Space
1. Race, Space, and the Evolution of Black Los Angeles
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First elected in 1973, Tom Bradley is usually credited as the first black mayor of Los Angeles. But a more comprehensive history of the city must recognize that Francisco Reyes was actually the first. His term began in 1793, when the city was still under the Spanish flag. To be sure, the African presence...
2. From Central Avenue to Leimert Park: The Shifting Center of Black Los Angeles
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Since the turn of the twentieth century, there have been two prominent black centers in Los Angeles: the Central Avenue community from approximately 1900 to 1950, and the Crenshaw/Leimert Park Village community from approximately 1960 to the present. Central Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard...
3. The Decline of a Black Community by the Sea: Demographic and Political Changes in Oakwood
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I attended a party at the small cottage of my wife’s friend John, a white man in his late twenties, who recently moved to Oakwood and works in the film production industry. Oakwood, a one-square-mile area in Venice, California, was oft en recognized as a distinct neighborhood altogether. Many referred to...
PART 2. People
4. “Blowing Up” at Project Blowed: Rap Dreams and Young Black Men
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In 2009, Trenseta was a thirty-four-year-old African American male who stood around 6 feet and weighed close to 180 pounds. Despite being lean, he had a deceptively muscular build, which he credited to lifting weights and playing pickup basketball almost daily. A die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan, he...
5. Out of the Void: Street Gangs in Black Los Angeles
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With the exception of a few studies,1 what is most striking about the corpus of gang research is the lack of attention paid to how race, segregation, and discrimination worked together to create the communities that have spawned street gangs. These important factors certainly shaped the first clubs that later...
6. Imprisoning the Family: Incarceration in Black Los Angeles
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As co-investigators, we shared an academic interest in examining the impact of incarceration on families, but as we became better acquainted, we discovered that the topic had far more intimate significance for us. Some of us grew up in neighborhoods where incarceration was commonplace and access to...
7. Black and Gay in L.A.: The Relationships Black Lesbians and Gay Men Have to Their Racial and Religious Communities
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On November 4, 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, an initiative on the state ballot that sought to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. The proposition passed by a 52 to 48 percent margin, and the first exit polls conducted by the Associated Press reported that 70 percent of black voters...
PART 3. Image
8. Looking for the ’Hood and Finding Community: South Central, Race, and Media
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“This is the worst neighborhood in Los Angeles?!” my friend shouted as we drove through Watts. In the mid-1990s, I took a visiting friend on my own political tour to show her some of the race and class segregation that quietly divides Los Angeles. We began in Bel Air and ended in Watts. She had seen...
9. Playing “Ghetto”: Black Actors, Stereotypes, and Authenticity
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As I sit across from a beautiful black woman with long, flowing hair, I feel like I am in the presence of a movie star. Although she is not a recognizable celebrity, Vivian’s melodious voice and elegant movements underscore her background as a dancer and actor. Donning a red cashmere sweater, she tells...
10. Before and After Watts: Black Art in Los Angeles
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In 1929, the California Art Club hosted the first recorded black art show in Los Angeles. The exhibit was brought to California from Chicago and did not feature local artists. Only at the request of the club were three local black artists included. Unfortunately, the exhibit was not warmly received by Arthur Miller...
11. SOLAR: The History of the Sounds of Los Angeles Records
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SOLAR (Sound of Los Angeles Records) was the most dominant, black-owned record label from the late 1970s through the 1980s.1 SOLAR, known as the Motown of the 1980s, dominated R&B and pop music with a run of hits from a large roster of artists, including The Whispers, Shalamar, Lakeside...
12. Killing “Killer King”: The Los Angeles Times and a “Troubled” Hospital in the ’Hood
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The above quote, which comes from an overview of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winners for Public Service, is as familiar as it is ambiguous. The “courageous, exhaustively researched series”2 referred to in the quote is based on the investigative work of a team of white Los Angeles Times reporters.3 Celebrated by American...
PART 4. Action
13. Bass to Bass: Relative Freedom and Womanist Leadership in Black Los Angeles
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On August 8, 2008, a beautiful Friday morning in Los Angeles, patrons are waved through the gates of the California Science Center at Exposition Park, a sprawling urban oasis and educational center that sits at the gateway to South Los Angeles. The parking lot, which is normally bordered by yell...
14. Concerned Citizens: Environmental (In)Justice in Black Los Angeles
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In August 1985, two African American women learned that the City of Los Angeles had selected their neighborhood as the site for a thirteen-acre, municipal solid waste incinerator plant. They immediately took action by establishing the Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles (CCSCLA)—“one...
15. A Common Project for a Just Society: Black Labor in Los Angeles
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On September 7, 2007, a standing-room-only reception was held in the lobby of the Los Angeles Sentinel.1 The energized scene included Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Kwanzaa founder and chair of the US Organization Maulana Karenga,2 and the activist Rev. Eric Lee, head of the Southern...
16. Reclaiming UCLA: The Education Crisis in Black Los Angeles
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On a Sunday morning in June 2006, Los Angeles woke up to the above words under the headline “A Startling Statistic at UCLA.” Media throughout the nation soon picked up the news, reigniting a long-standing debate about higher education, race, and access.2 For much of the city’s black community, the revelation...
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Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2010