Byline: Kristin Aldana-Taday
Yesterday, I received an email from one of our dear supporters that attended our Frontlines of Change bus tour. She said, “I loved the van tour. LA is a real bubble town, and we do not feel connected to the causes LHF supports when we just write checks. I always get fired up after a van tour.”
It was thrilling to read her comment because I’ve felt the same way. Liberty Hill is a wonderful place to work and as a staff member, I’ve shared this same guest’s sentiments – sometimes not feeling connected to the work. But there are moments, whether it’s talking to a supporter of Liberty Hill or attending as a guest at the Leadership Institute or being at a van tour hearing from one of our grantees that sparks that fire!
Last Saturday’s tour was incredibly informative – rich with historical information, inspirational work and stories of impactful change, inspired by the mystery novels of Walter Mosley. Who did we hear and learn from? Community Coalition’s, President and CEO Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Community Organizer, Karume James. We went from the Westside into South L.A. covering the streets from Central, Florence, Manchester, Broadway, Crenshaw, Martin Luther King Blvd. and more. With every turn, new and interesting information was provided by our well versed guides. The streets that one could easily drive by without a second look suddenly had greater meaning. Along the way, we learned tidbits like…
- African American churches are known as “commuter” churches because although the population has changed in the area to over 60% Latino, African American churches want to maintain history and culture so continue to remain where they once started. Many “commute” to their home church.
- Fremont High School was built to house 1,500 students, but serves over 5,000 students year round and that even accounts for the over 60% dropout rate of students!
- The Goodyear manufacturing plant left to be replaced by the US Postal Office, which was a hard battle wone and only scratched the surface on replacing the number of jobs that were lost.
- While there are empty lots that seem feasible for positive development for the community, unfortunately, many are brownfield locations that are polluted and cost an overwhelming amount of money to mitigate.
- Gang conflict shouldn’t always been seen as a Black vs. Brown issue, because often times, it’s really a territory regarding underground economy “businesses” (read: prostitution, drugs, etc.)
- Former Mayor Hahn’s mother lived in S. Los Angeles until she died a few years ago. She didn’t agree with white flight and thought it would have been wrong to leave.
The above information barely covers the incredible amount of information that was shared. Marqueece and Karume’s knowledge on the depth and breadth on S. Los Angeles, the Civil Rights Movement, investment and disinvestment in the community and the positive work of Community Coalition was amazing!
We didn’t just tour S. Los Angeles. We stopped in Leimert Park and were welcomed by Richard, co-owner of Lucy Florence Cultural Café. Not only did we enjoy lunch there, but we were able to browse and purchase African American art, jewelry and clothing. We even had a few minutes to stop by an independent bookstore, EsoWon bookstore.
To see more pictures from the tour, visit us on Facebook!
If you missed this tour, but want to know about others email Darrell Tucci.