Los Angeles, CA–While Black Los Angeles continues to be pushed out of the city that we were born and raised in, our art and other cultural markers signifying our contributions to L.A continue to be undermined and disrespected.
A mural that has the faces of Black Panther Founder Huey Newton and what appears to be the image of Angela Davis, was whacked out with gang symbols, as well as different Black gangs written and crossed out.
Note: A Latino artist relayed to me that the way I first presented this information was one-sided. The mural was not to honor the Black Panther Party per say, but rather, the solidarity of the BPP and the Brown Berets. Please keep in mind however, that Chicano youth in L.A were inspired and created the Brown Berets in 1967, modeled after the Black Panther Party but clarity is important.
This area of Central Avenue in particular, is designated by the City of Los Angeles as a historical Black community, listed among the city’s historic districts.
A marker on 41st and Central also has the faces and stories of Black L.A figures who have made considerable contributions to this city.
These images include California Eagle Publisher and Owner Charlotta Bass and civil rights attorney, judge and journalist Loren Miller.
Miller assisted Thurgood Marshall in arguing against the legality of restrictive housing covenants. These restrictions were written into the deeds of homes, ultimately segregating Black L.A along Central Avenue.
The guts and brilliance of our Black lawyers like Miller and Marshall, gained them a victory in Shelley V. Kraemer, the famous case which deemed restrictive housing covenants illegal.
This is the history of Los Angeles within all of it’s “glitz and glam”–de-facto segregation of L.A’s neighborhoods through covert means.
Read More: Shelley v. Kraemer
“The case lived on in Los Angeles lore, particularly as the issue of fair and affordable housing remained pertinent to African Americans. Opponents of integration stymied the implementation of the Shelley v. Kraemer ruling in their neighborhoods. They circumvented the ruling through both private neighborhood agreements and violent intimidation of African Americans who purchased, or sought to purchase, property in predominantly white areas.UCLA Library
Although white landlords were resistant to the ruling of Shelley v. Kraemer, the case would ultimately allow Black people the opportunity to move west into areas like the Crenshaw and Adams Districts, and ultimately Baldwin-Hills and View Park if you had the money.
The Great Crenshaw Mural was also tagged with swastikas in 2018, and F N**ers was recently spray painted on the 110 freeway in South Central a few months back.
Disrespecting the images and memory of our real Black revolutionaries and activists will never be O.K.
Local gang members need to understand their gang lifestyles will never match up with men who had so much heart, they stood their ground when police showed up that early morning Dec. 1969, attempting to enter the premises without a warrant.
This led to a four hour shoot out with L.A.P.D and the L.A Black Panthers. 11 BPP members, including Vietnam vet Geronimo Pratt, Tupac’s Godfather, were among those involved.
This is why projects like Destination Crenshaw, presented initially as a hundred million dollar art project, would never be enough for Black Angelenos in the face of hyper-gentrification.
People do not care that these used to be Black L.A communities. It only matters if Black people are actually in the community–not pushed out do to soaring rent prices, homelessness, state sanctioned violence and institutional racism.