28th Street Apartments rekindle tradition of former YMCA

In 1924, a group of African-American leaders decided their Central Avenue neighborhood needed a place for black men and boys to socialize. After a successful fundraising campaign, the 28th Street Y.M.C.A. was born. The facility re-opened in December as an affordable-housing community. Omar Shamout visited the new 28th Street Apartments to learn more about its staff and residents.

OpEd:  In support of Jackie Lacey for D.A.

By Walter Melton

Jackie Lacey, one of Leimert Park’s own, is on her way to becoming The District Attorney for Los Angeles County.

imageThe Office of District Attorney, County of Los Angeles will be one of several positions and issues on the June 5 Primary Election Day ballot. The race will be absent an incumbent for the first time in 50 years since Steve Cooley, who currently holds the position, has chosen to retire and will not pursue another term. Without having to compete against an already in-place official, six candidates, including Carmen Trutanich, the City Attorney of Los Angeles, and five veteran deputy district attorneys have put in their bids to occupy the vacant seat.

The District Attorney is in essence the “lawyer for the people,” prosecuting felonies and misdemeanors in the community. The person carrying out the duties of the Los Angeles County office must understand the concerns of a diverse public with distinct economic, ethnic, cultural, generational, and class interests that is, at times, in conflict. This awareness equips the person to identify commonality in community issues, prioritize prosecution caseload and effectively manage the office while mindful of the sensibilities of all stakeholders. Moreover, the integrity of the District Attorney must be beyond reproach, a prerequisite necessary to inspire and sustain trust that the law is being administered fairly.

Pundits consider Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich the front runner in the race. Yet he has credibility issues which limit the viability of his candidacy, and if elected, his ability to perform the duties of office.

Jackie Lacey is the ideal candidate to succeed Steve Cooley as the next Los Angeles County District Attorney. She possesses a depth and breadth of experience in her twenty-six year career as a Public Safety servant unequaled by any of her peers. Lacey has extensive trial experience, including death row cases, hate crimes and child molestation cases. In addition to her trial experience, Jackie Lacey has been a member of Steve Cooley’s executive staff serving in various roles including Bureau Director in various locations. Jackie is currently the Chief Deputy District Attorney, responsible for day-to-day oversight of the largest local prosecution office in the United States.

While Jackie Lacey’s career in public office is well-documented, her upbringing in Leimert Park is not.

Her development years in the Crenshaw District community has played a large part in her ability to understand the dynamics that come into play when the ethnic and cultural demographics are continually shifting in an area.

Challenge accompanies change when new residents into a community struggle to find their way in a new environment while and while learning how to co-exist with the already established denizens of the community.

Jackie Lacey grew up in Leimert Park in the 1960’s when the Crenshaw District was adjusting to demographic changes. Previously an all-white community, the area became the destination of choice for people of color beginning in the 1950’s. Japanese families migrated to Leimert Park after their release from the World War II internment camps. Korean and Chinese families also populated the area when blacks began moving into the District in the late 1950’s and 60’s.

Jackie Lacey’s father was a City of Los Angeles Lot Cleaning employee, while her mother earned a living as a garment factory worker. Her parents shared the same dream for their daughter during the 1960’s Civil Rights era as parents today have for their children; they encouraged Jackie to become the first in her family to attend college and pursue a career in public service. She understands the dreams of parents to see their children grow up and lead productive lives and contribute to their community. Jackie Lacey also knows how parents hope that those charged with enforcing the law will keep their community safe and protect their families.

Jackie Lacey has the background, experience and attributes to become, as Current District Attorney Steve Cooley stated, “… the next great District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles.”

Support Jackey Lacey. She will administer the law fairly for our community.

Leimert Park is proud of her. The County of Los Angeles will benefit from her growing up in the Crenshaw District.

Discovering a piece of Black LA history

By Walter Melton

imageEditor’s Note: Walter Melton grew up in the Leimert Park. He is a columnist LABeez, a regular contributor of Leimert Park Beat and a periodic contributor to Intersections South LA. He has a passionate knowledge and interest in the history of South L.A., and especially the colorful past of the Dunbar Hotel. His mother was a well-known dancer in the 40’s and is inextricably linked to Central Avenue; she was a featured dancer at Club Alabam as well as major venues throughout the country during that era, including the Cotton Club and Savoy. When we received word that Councilwoman Jan Perry would be celebrating groundbreaking on the Dunbar Hotel renovation, we asked Walter if he wanted to cover it for us. He jumped at the chance and sent us this sidebar from his evening at the Dunbar.

The star of the show on Monday was the Dunbar Hotel and all of the history it contained. Some people were there because they love history. Some were there because they had to be there, such as the politicians. Some were there because they were curious. Some thought they knew the history but few really did.

I was one of the few that was directly tied to it. My mother’s photo remained on the wall when I walked in.

image Walter’s mother Margaret is the middle dancer

There was a handful of Black men and women who grew up in Leimert Park or Baldwin Hills. We were talking when I noticed this piece of paper on the wall. I had never seen it but it drew me to it. So I walked over and read it.

I was floored.

Every kid from Leimert Park in the 60’s went to Dolphin’s of Hollywood to buy records. It was an institution. However, I never knew it was connected to Central Avenue until Monday. As soon as I read the paper I yelled over to the other old LA guys and women. The whole building turned when I yelled and watched with fascinated curiosity when we started giving each other high fives. They knew it was a special moment. We learned something about ourselves. image

None of us knew the history because the store was at neither of the locations mentioned in the historical synopsis. And then when I went back to my office, I did some research. I found out John Dolphin was murdered. A colorful account of his killing was on the Internet. I sent out all of the information to every old Black LA person I knew.

Everyone wanted to know why I was there. I told them. They wanted me to thank you for sending me. Must have been 50 of them that wanted me to thank you.

That place holds a special place for me. Four months before Jimmy Hendrix died, he gave a concert in LA. I wanted to go. I doubled-dated with a guy who was at Harvard School with me. The movie The Graduate was filmed at his house. We could not get tickets at any of the locations in white neighborhoods in the Valley. Each location had a line of about 400 people. So something told me to call Dolphins on Crenshaw just south of King Boulevard. They said no one was waiting to buy tickets.

WE FLEW to the store from the Valley playing the Rolling Stones on the cassette player. I walked out of the van, step into the store and purchased my tickets. just like that.

We never knew the origin of the name Dolphins of Hollywood until Monday. And that store contains thousands of memories just like the one I shared with you for all of us.

South Los Angeles hungry to shop locally

Where do you shop and where would you like to shop? At the foot of the Baldwin Hills at the Crenshaw Mall near Leimert Park, Walter Melton of LeimertParkBeat.com interviewed residents about the attractions and amenities in their South Los Angeles neighborhoods, and those that are lacking.

Sponsored by Spot.Us with funding through the California Endowment and generous donations from people like you.

Hosted by Walter Melton. Featuring Sika of Sika fashions and Clint Rosemond of Community Build.