#TBT South LA: Church mothers, circa 1960

"Church Mothers" stand outside the First AME Church in South LA, circa 1960. | USC Digital Library

“Church Mothers” stand outside the First AME Church in South LA, circa 1960. | USC Digital Library

For many generations, churches have been integral to the character of South Los Angeles. The First African Methodist Episcopal stands as an example.

Dressed in “Sunday best” attire, the 16 women are pictured standing in front of the First AME, or simply “FAME.” The photograph is from the 1960s.

Founded in 1872, FAME is the city’s oldest African-American church. Before the 1970s, the church had a population of 250 congregants. It now boasts a congregation of about 19,000 members and is considered a mega-church with task forces for health, substance abuse and homelessness issues. [Read more…]

Is the President’s new drug policy just more of the same?

imageListen to the audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s new Drug Control Strategy for 2012 recommends roughly equal spending on treatment and punishment.

It allocated $10.1 billion on prevention and treatment; $9.4 billion on law enforcement and incarceration; $3.6 billion on drug interdiction; and $2.1 billion on international programs.

Meghan Ralston of Drug Policy Alliance, a national organization advocating marijuana legalization and de-criminalization of other lesser drugs and amounts, was underwhelmed. “It’s essentially been the exact same allocation of funds, the exact same approach, since the days of Nixon. So it’s really just the same old, same old.”

Ralston thinks Gil Kerlikowske, the President’s drug czar and head of the ONDCP, and the Administration are trying to do the right thing, but they’re going about it from the wrong direction.

“The policies that are in place at the federal level, and the rhetoric that’s happening at a federal level, is really inconsistent and out of touch with what a lot of the American people want and what a lot of American people need and really the direction the rest of the country is headed.”

With polls showing overwhelming support for medical marijuana, Ralston said, there’s a big disconnect between federal policy and popular will.

Kerlikowske has been touring the country to tout the new strategy. He held a news conference at Los Angeles’ First African Methodist Episcopal Church, in the West Adams district, to highlight a portion of the community-based approaches the administration thinks may be more effective at the local level. The Drug Free Communities Support Program offers small grants to community groups that address youth substance abuse.

Standing in the church’s sunny garden, Kerlikowske said local faith organizations reach more people regularly than he could possibly reach himself. “These are the folks that touch people every single day.”

He also said the new strategy will take into account the rising scourge of prescription drug abuse. “It was just a few years ago that no one talked about the problem of prescription drugs. Now prescription drugs take more lives in this country than heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.”

Whether the new strategy will be any more effective in combatting this and other forms of drug abuse than prior attempts remains to be seen.

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