Lark Galloway-Gilliam, the founder of activist organization Community Health Councils who pushed for quality health and healthcare in South L.A., has died. She was 61. Among many accomplishments, the native Angeleno helped create an ordinance limiting fast food eateries, recruited grocery stores featuring nutritious options, led the charge against a toxic oil field and brought health education to underserved groups.
An obituary in the Los Angeles touches on the impact of her legacy, cultivated since founding her nonprofit in the wake of the 1992 L.A. Riots:
“As the founder of Community Health Councils, Galloway-Gilliam worked with lawmakers, corporate executives and residents to tackle institutional problems that have plagued South L.A. Along the way, she helped cultivate the next generation of activists by hosting workshops to teach residents how to protect their community.”
Intersections spoke with Galloway-Gililam last January at a Leimert Park community planning meeting, where she urged residents to become involved in neighborhood affairs, saying:
“We have to hold on to this land. For homeowners, it’s about how our children can come back to the community as well because this is about our culture, our history and how we can preserve our economic and political base.”
South L.A. residents, activists and politicians are taking to the Web to express their grief, gratitude and remembrances.
Jan Perry, who formerly represented Council District 9, including a vast swath of South L.A., praises Galloway-Gilliam’s optimism.
— Jan Perry (@JanPerry) December 10, 2014
Community Commons, a website that offers resources supporting the “livable communities’ movement” calls Galloway-Gilliam a “long-standing and influential champion” who advocated to expand access to healthcare and nutritional food while nurturing safe neighborhoods. Monte Roulier writes:
“She was a social innovator who took risks with aplomb and steadiness of nerve.”
Eddie North-Hager of Leimert Park Beat writes that, among her recent accomplishments, Galloway-Gilliam helped create a tree restoration plan with the California Science Center after the Endeavor space shuttle tore though South L.A. He writes:
“Lark Galloway-Gilliam just worked and worked and worked. I saw few people more in the community over the past decade.”
When L.A.’s planning department website asked Galloway-Gilliam in an interview last October about where she’d take out-of-towners visiting the city, she said, of course, South L.A.:
“I would take them to my neighborhood; I would take them to Leimert Park where I live and the beauty and sense of community of South Los Angeles shines.”
A public memorial will be held on Jan. 31 at 11:00 a.m. at the Agape International Spiritual Center at 5700 Buckingham Parkway, Culver City, CA 90230. And add your own remembrances of Lark Galloway-Gilliam in the comments, or email the editor at [email protected]