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Is bustin' a cap really fundamental? -- Exploring South Central for Black History Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 6, 2014 11:10am | Post a Comment

INTRODUCTION SOUTH CENTRAL

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Central
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of South Central

South Central means different things to different people. To some it refers to a vast, amorphous collection of neighborhoods and cities between the Santa Monica Bay and the San Gabriel River, north of the San Pedro Bay and south of the 10 Freeway. To others its less of a geographical space than a metaphor -- that's surely the sense in which Ice Cube used it to refer to Compton -- which is of course it's own city and thus not any part of "LA."

A widely-accepted story tells that the South Central brand became so loaded with negative connotations of gang violence and riots that a neologism, South Los Angeles, was devised to "officially" replace it. But South Los Angeles is a geographic concept that goes back at least to the 1930s, as does South Central -- when it was coined to refer to the then-mostly-black neighborhood that arose just south of Downtown along South Central Avenue (hence the name) that is now sometimes referred to as “Historic South Central.”

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The 17th Central Avenue Jazz Festival

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 31, 2012 03:05pm | Post a Comment
THE CENTRAL AVENUE JAZZ FESTIVAL


Central Avenue Jazz Park 


Every year for the past 17 years, during the last weekend in JulyLA residents and visitors are treated to the preeminent jazz event on the West Coast with The Central Avenue Jazz Festival. It’s free and open to the public – last year, 35,000 attended. The focus, of course, is live music but there are also craft and food booths. I've been meaning to check it out in the past and this I year finally did.


LOCATION OF EVENT

The Dunbar Hotel
The Dunbar in 2012 and Central Ave - A Community Album


A BRIEF BIT OF BACKGROUND ABOUT SOUTH CENTRAL


Malcolm X Way - South Central, Los Angeles Jazz Mural - South Central Los Angeles
          Intersection of Malcolm X Way and MLK                                A Jazzy mural at Alondra's Bakery

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A brief (and by no means complete) history of Black Los Angeles. Happy Black History Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 30, 2012 07:19pm | Post a Comment
Los Angeles' black population is relatively small compared to the city's other major racial and ethnic minorities. The LA metro area is only 8.7% black as compared to 47% Latino (of any race), 28.7% non-Latino white, and 14% Asian/Pacific Islander. However, since its inception, black Angelenos have always played a major role in LA's history and culture. Los Angeles is one of the only major US cities founded largely by people of black African ancestry. When it was still a Spanish colony, Los Angeles began life as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles on 4 September, 1781 (well, sort of). Of the 44 pobladores who ventured over from nearby San Gabriel, a majority of 26 were identified as having African ancestry.

BLACKS IN MEXICAN AND EARLY AMERICAN LOS ANGELES

Pio Pico
Pio Pico ca. 1890

During the period that Los Angeles was part of Mexico (1821-1840), blacks were fairly integrated into society at all levels. Mexico abolished slavery much earlier than the US, in 1820. In 1831, Emanuel Victoria served as California's first black governor. Alta California's last governor, Pío de Jesus Pico, was also of mixed black ancestry. The US won the Mexican-American War and in 1850, California was admitted to the United States. Although one of America's so-called "free states," discriminatory legislation was quickly enacted to restrict and remove the civil rights of blacks, Chinese, and Native Americans. For example, blacks (and other minorities) couldn't testify in court against white people. 

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Straight billin' through the Eastside - a South LA Eastside primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 5, 2011 09:15pm | Post a Comment
A TALE OF TWO EASTSIDES 

In Los Angeles, usage of the term "Eastside" varies depending on the speaker. To most Angelenos -- especially Latinos -- "The Eastside" refers to a group of neighborhoods immediately east of the LA river: Boyle Heights, Brooklyn Heights, City Terrace, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Happy Valley, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Rose Hills, and University Hills


THE (HISTORICALLY) BLACK EASTSIDE


Map of South LA's Eastside
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of South LA's Eastside

The other Eastside is in South LA. This Eastside was historically the main area that LA's black residents were required to live until the middle of the 20th century. It should be noted that when people speak of this region -- though they're implicitly referring to the East Side of South Los Angeles -- that reference to this area as "the Eastside" likely pre-dates the modern version of communties east of the river. Check out The Eastsiders, a documentary about South LA's Eastside between 1920 and 1965.

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Compton - Los Angeles County's "Hub City"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 23, 2011 07:03pm | Post a Comment
***The following blog entry contains strong language and is intended for mature audiences***

Painting of Compton

This edition of Eric's Blog is all about the CPT.  Where? Compton. That's right. To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here.

INTRO

Seal of Compton California

Compton is an infamous city that is practically synonymous around the world with the South Los Angeles region in which it's located. Due in large part to the mythologizing and glamorization of N.W.A. and their gangsta rap followers, Compton has also become a byword for urban squalor and gang violence even though (not to make anyone feel old) nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the release of "Straight Outta Compton" and the city has, naturally, changed a great deal in that time. Nevertheless, the media continues to exploit the aging and increasingly irrelevant image as if Compton is frozen in time. Recently, a program on The History Channel hilariously claimed that "going to Compton is a death sentence for non-blacks." Not only are most residents of Compton non-black Latinos, there are small but visible groups of Belizeans, Filipinos, Koreans, Samoans and Tongans.

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