South Central LA Is the Future

Podcast 1  –  May 2020

In Episode 1 we explore how the history of South Central Los Angeles helps us to understand its current conditions, including disparities around housing, employment, policing, environment, and ultimately community health. We also discuss how decades of neglect and suppression have culminated both as violent uprising and also as a new wave of community organizing.

Guest Bios

Sonya Vasquez serves as Chief Transformation Officer for Community Health Councils (CHC) whose mission is to collectively build equitable systems. She is responsible for the oversight and direction of a portfolio of community initiatives, systems change efforts and research that advance CHC’s strategic goals that lead to better communities for all people.

Gloria Medina is Deputy Director at Strategic Concepts in Organizing & Policy Education (SCOPE), a 27-year-old South LA community-based organization. Gloria launched and grew SCOPE’s Training Program and has led the development of key social justice curricula used widely across the field, including trainings on power analysis, community organizing, and integrated voter engagement.

Mary M. Lee consults with community-based organizations, public officials, government agencies and philanthropy to dismantle racially biased systems and structures and build just and equitable neighborhoods. She is a former Deputy Director of PolicyLink, a national advocacy organization working to advance racial equity and social justice. A practicing attorney for over 25 years, Lee has experience using civil rights, land use and economic development strategies to revitalize neighborhoods and enhance public participation in the policy arena, with an emphasis on the legal rights of low-income people.

Marco Flores currently lives with his wife and three children in the same South Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up. He is a 29 year public school educator and activist working to educate and empower his community.

Additional Notes


What is Redlining?  Redlining is a process by which banks and other institutions refuse to offer mortgages or offer worse rates to customers in certain neighborhoods based on racial and ethnic composition.

Undesign the Redline is an interactive art exhibit, workshop series and curriculum that showcases the history of the structural racism and classism embedded in redlining practices in communities of color.

Source: LA County Library

The Dunbar Hotel

What is The Dunbar Hotel? The Dunbar Hotel, originally known as the Hotel Somerville, served as a landmark and gathering place for accommodating lodging catered towards African Americans and the noteworthy figures and community leaders.  The Dunbar Hotel is located on the Historic Central Avenue corridor.

This KCET article gives more details on the historical context of the Dunbar hotel and its contributions to the cultivation of Black culture in Los Angeles.

Here is the Central Avenue application for the National Register of Historic Places, which gives an extensive historical accounting of the cultural and historical significance of Central Avenue.

Here is an article in CurbedLA describing the vibrant Jazz club (late late club) scene along Central Avenue.

Restrictive Covenants

What is a Restrictive Covenant? A covenant is a legally enforceable “contract” imposed in a deed upon the buyer of property. Owners who violate the terms of the covenant risk forfeiting the property. Most covenants “run with the land” and are legally enforceable on future buyers of the property.

Racially restrictive covenants refer to contractual agreements that prohibit the purchase, lease, or occupation of a piece of property by a particular group of people, usually African Americans. Racially restrictive covenants were not only mutual agreements between property owners in a neighborhood not to sell to certain people, but were also agreements enforced through the cooperation of real estate boards and neighborhood associations. Racially restrictive covenants became common after 1926 after the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Corrigan v. Buckley, which validated their use.

From the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston

Source: Faithfully
Source: ideadream

Watch this video report on the current presence of restrictive covenants in deeds of property in Los Angeles today.

“Understanding Fair Housing” a report from the US Commission on Civil Rights (Publication 42, 1973).

2008 LA Times article on CA State Assemblymember Hector De La Torre’s discovery that his South Gate home still had racially restrictive covenants.

A three part series from KCET on the history of racial covenants in Los Angeles.

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