Originally published in L.A Focus News by Slauson Girl
Los Angeles, CA–The Leimert Park Rising Festival is estimated to have doubled in size from last year’s 10,000 attendees. Black people of all shades, shapes and across a broad spectrum of careers, connected in Leimert Park this past weekend for what is quickly becoming one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in Los Angeles.
This year, the theme of Leimert Park Rising was stronger together, as the planning committee envisioned ways to establish a stronger, cohesive, cooperative model in Leimert Park that was equitable for everyone in the village.
“We have always done the Juneteenth Heritage Festival, but the interest is shaping and shifting the energy in Leimert Park, creating a model that can be duplicated in other cultural hubs,” said Fred McNeill.
McNeill served as project manager and art director for LPR, overseeing the festival’s branding and marketing.
“There are other Black neighborhoods that can create power through collectivism and collaboration to show that culture and commerce can work together and be equitable and balanced,” McNeill continued.
Media, logistics, city and food compliance, scheduling of artists and vendors, as well as raising the capital necessary to fund a festival of this magnitude were just some of the planning committee’s tasks.
Then, there was what Kaya Dantzler of the non-profit We Love Leimert, referred to as the ‘buy in’ of various stakeholders in the Leimert Park Village and surrounding community.
“From business owners, to vendors, to community organizations like Africa Town and getting everyone to work together across ideological and political differences. That was a huge thing that we had to do,” said Dantzler.
She notes the small victories such as the gates to Leimert Park finally being open after two years and petitions circulated for access to be granted. City Councilman Mark-Ridley Thomas is one of the officials who pushed for the gates to be reopened, especially in anticipation of LPR.
“We want policy changes and investment in the community for long-term development. We want more structural changes–not just symbolic changes. I see things are moving in a good direction, but I am waiting to see more,” Dantzler expressed.
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Photo Credit: USC Student Dante Bailey