BLOG: Community Coalition turns 20

The 1980s were a turning point in South Los Angeles. It was a time of Reaganomics which brought the disappearance of jobs in urban communities like South LA. And while residents were sinking deeper into poverty, the crack cocaine epidemic was further devastating the neighborhood. Enter the Community Coalition, which was founded in 1990 by a group of community activitists, including Karen Bass who recently stepped down as the California Assembly Speaker.

Twenty years later, CoCo, as it’s affectionately known, is still going strong and beginning a year-long celebration of its anniversary. The kick-off event is scheduled for Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 10 am. Founder Karen Bass will be on hand to help celebrate.

Community Coalition organizes among African American and Latino residents “to build a prosperous and healthy South LA with safe neighborhoods, quality schools, a strong social safety net and positive economic development in order to reduce crime, poverty and substance abuse in our community.”

The organization has grown over the years to a staff of some 25 people with dozens of members and community residents that work on its campaigns. CoCo receives funding from major foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and the Sterling Foundation, to name a few. image

One of CoCo’s campaigns has centered on improving neighborhoods by cracking down on so-called nuisance businesses, such as liquor stores, hourly motels and recycling centers. CoCo has spearheaded protests against Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts, and it’s also organizing among young people with its South Central Youth Empowered through Action and its High School Organizing Committees.

CoCo is urging people who worked on its campaigns over the last 20 years to share their stories. The organization is putting together a list of its top 20 victories and contributions to the South L.A. community. You can email your story about your participation or most memorable experience, or share it on CoCo’s website.

To RSVP to the March 20th event, visit their website and RSVP online or contact Kusema Thomas at [email protected].

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