Leimert Park Village A - Hub of African-American Culture
In the past half-century, Leimert Park Village has established itself as a hub of African-American culture with a national and even international reputation. From the visual arts, to film, poetry, jazz and blues and hip-hop, the neighborhood has generated an impressive artistic and cultural legacy—prompting filmmaker John Singleton to dub it a “black Greenwich Village.”
It didn’t start out that way. Founded in 1927 by developer Walter H. Leimert, Sr., it was one of Southern California’s first planned communities, its wide tree-lined boulevards and iconic park designed by the Olmsted Brothers, whose father famously designed New York’s Central Park. In its first decades it was an exclusively white community, as housing in Los Angeles was effectively segregated by racially restricted covenants. The Supreme Court struck down those covenants in 1948, and slowly but surely more affluent African-American Angelenos began making their way westward from historic South LA.
In 1967 Alonzo and Dale Davis founded the Brockman Gallery on Degnan Boulevard, and the Village found itself at the center of a citywide Black Arts movement. In addition to promoting young black visual artists, the Davis brothers hosted performances by local jazz legend Horace Tapscott, and screened films by Charles Burnett and other young filmmakers.
When the Gallery closed in 1987, the Village saw some quiet years. But in 1989, jazz drummer Billy Higgins and poet Kamau Daáood founded The World Stage, and soon after filmmaker Ben Caldwell opened up his multi-media center Kaos Network. Along with Richard Fulton’s coffee house & jazz club Fifth Street Dick’s, which opened just two weeks before the Rodney King verdict in April of 1992, they formed the heart of a revived Leimert Park Village scene—a safe haven for community and the arts whose importance was only magnified during the unrest that followed.
Though the Village has at times struggled economically over the years, it has continued to attract new talent, energy and initiative, including: Eso Won Books, the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center, the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center and Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice. The long-standing Regency West has upheld the value of the Village as cultural entertainment center and the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which now manages the landmark Vision Theater, has completed Phase I of the four phase renovation.
A Shared Vision for the Future
For years, local advocates like the Crenshaw Subway Coalition had fought for a Leimert Park station on the proposed Crenshaw-LAX Metro line. And in May 0f 2013, the Metro Board announced that stop would become a reality. Yet within weeks of that announcement, a mystery developer bought up a number of storefronts on the east side of Degnan Boulevard. The mass evictions some feared did not take place, but it was a wake-up call: if future development was going to remain true to the neighborhood’s unique cultural heritage, the Village was going to have to organize.
An informal weekly meeting convened by Clint Rosemond and Johnnie Raines took on new urgency, and evolved into the Leimert Park Village 20/20 Vision Initiative—an alliance of business owners, residents, artists and other stakeholders. The group conducted a survey of business and residents in Leimert Park and surrounding communities to identify both the strengths and needs of the Village going forward. The results of the survey – presented at the 20/20 Vision Initiative Planning Charrette on January 25 2014 – showed an overwhelming support for shaping the Village’s future economic development around its artistic and cultural heritage.
A specific objective that emerged from that first Charrette was the creation of a public plaza that would provide a family-friendly gathering spot for a wide range of cultural and community events. As part of a new program by the City’s Department of Transportation, the group applied for and was awarded official designation of the east block of 43rd Place as a “People's Street Plaza.” The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Plaza was held after the second 20/20 Vision Initiative Charrette on June 27 2015. That meeting, whose theme was “Harnessing Our Cultural Economy,” focused on more ambitious goals such as developing the public lot behind the Vision Theater as a cultural center.
Since then, with the help of a report prepared by the Urban Land Institute and sponsored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the 20/20 Vision Initiative has continued to develop a shared vision for a revitalized Leimert Park Village.
Join the Renaissance…
Clearly, Leimert Park Village is poised for a renaissance that is true to its past but takes it boldly into the future. The original plain polka dots of the People's Street Plaza have been adorned with Adinkra symbols of the Akan people of Ghana, and the Plaza is home to a monthly Art Walk and other events. The World Stage has moved across the street to a new location with better acoustics and improved capacity. And Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice continues to be a force for positive change, expanding a campus devoted to free art exhibitions and lectures, and toward providing support services to local foster youth.
But if we are going to fully capture the benefits of ongoing and future transformation of the Village, we need your help. The 20/20 Vision Initiative needs your active participation in committees and working groups devoted to the following broad objectives:
Please indicate your area of interest in the sign-in sheet, or reach out directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. And make sure you subscribe to our mailing list at LeimertParkVillage.org, and “like” us on Facebook.
Leimert Park Village
2017 20|20 Vision Initiative Charrette
Check out the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) 2016 Student Design Competition Submittals for the Leimert Park Village African American Cultural & Convention Center proposed for the Vision Theatre back lot! There were submissions from 20 universities!
We will vote for the best design concepts during the Leimert Park Village 20|20 Vision Initiative Charrette. Click on link below.
The Leimert Park Village 20/20 Vision Initiative Meetings
NEW MEETING DATES AND TIMES!!!
Two Meetings Per Month Starting in 2017 First Monday at 10:00 am and the Third Thursday at 6:00 pm
Except in January 2017. Meetings will be held on Thursday, January 19th at 6:00 pm and Monday,
January 23rd at 10:00 am given that the Charrette will be held on January 7th
The Focus: Move the Renaissance Strategy "Onward & Upward!"
Join Us @ The Vision Theatre
3341 W. 43rd Place, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Leimert Park Village 20/20 Vision Initiative Committee:
Kim Ramsey, Director, Greater Leimert Park Village Crenshaw Corridor BID and Executive Director, Community Build, Inc.; Clint Rosemond, Co-Chair, Leimert Park Village Stakeholders; Johnnie Raines, Co-Chair, Leimert Park Village Stakeholders, Member, Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Council; James Burks, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; Romerol Malveaux, Leimert Park Resident, Member, City Planning Department re:code LA Committee
Implementation Thought Leaders and Work Group Leads:
Sherri Franklin, Urban Design Center; Roland A. Wiley, Raw International, Inc.; Ben Caldwell, Kaos Network; Carl Morgan and Misty Wilks, Esq. ECWANDC; Lisa Flenoury, Los Angeles Police Department; and Joyce Watts, Leimert Park resident
Sylvia Lacy, District Director, Councilman President Herb J. Wesson, District 10; David Riccitello, Economic Development Director, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, District 2; Yvonne Ellett, Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council; and Kimberly Ramsey, Greater Leimert Park Village Crenshaw Corridor Business Improvement District
Please indicate your area of interest in the sign-in sheet, or reach out directly to email@example.com and make sure you subscribe to our mailing list at www.LeimertParkVillage.org, and “like” us on Facebook
Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council
Saturday - January 7, 2017 - 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
3341 W. 43rd Place, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Parking Available in the Vision Theatre Back Lot for $2.50 All Day
RSVP on Facebook or by Email to LeimertParkVillage@gmail.com