Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities

By Darnell Hunt; Ana-Christina Ramón | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
Bass to Bass
Relative Freedom and Womanist Leadership in
Black Los Angeles

Melina Abdullah and Regina Freer

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 yellow school buses and only sparsely populated by the cars of parents bringing their children to the Center and the nearby Natural History Museum, is filled to capacity. A few steps away, housed within an impressive building, is Muses Auditorium.

Every seat in the auditorium is filled, and dozens of people line the walls. Attendees are young, old, and middle-aged. Every racial group is represented, with people of color constituting the clear majority and African Americans comprising the plurality. The usual suspects—bureaucrats and heads of community-based organizations—are present but appear out of place and are certainly outnumbered as they are joined by individuals who are far less common in gatherings of this sort—parents, teenagers, area residents and a few babies making an occasional fuss in the rear corners of the room. Some are dressed in business suits, others in jeans, with a large, organized contingent wearing brightly colored, turquoise T-shirts identifying them as members of Community Coalition, a South Los Angeles grassroots organization.

What prompted this motley crew to decide to skip work, miss school, turn off the television, or opt out of a visit to the beach or the park? They have come from all regions, but especially South Los Angeles, for a special

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