For a long time, Los Angeles has existed in the West Coast of the United States of America. I wanted to mention information about LA for a long time. Los Angeles is the city with the second highest number of people in the USA with almost 4 million people. Los Angeles has great culture and great people. Directly south of Los Angeles is Long Beach and Torrance. East of Los Angeles, there is West Covina, Ontario, Fontana, and San Bernardino. Pasadena, and Lancester are to the north of Los Angeles. San Diego (which is near the US/Mexico border. San Diego is known for its large Naval base) is directly southeast of Los Angeles. Locations like Simi Valley, and Santa Barbara are to the northwest of LA. Inglewood, Compton, Carson, etc. are to the south or southwest of LA as well. There are no shortages of activists, actors, actresses, scholars, engineers, business people, political leaders, community organizers, and other human beings who love Los Angeles. LA is a tourist location, a place where many celebrities live, and it is a city where down to Earth people readily congregate. LA is more than the cultural center of the entertainment industry. It is a city with a great Mediterranean climate and it has a diverse demographic population. It is found in a large coastal basin being surrounded by mountains on three sides. I know that I would write about this city, because of its rich culture and its inspiring people. The history and culture of the great city of Los Angeles goes back from centuries ago to the present in the early part of the 21st century. There can be no talk about Los Angeles without mentioning information about the Native Americans. Archaeological studies found that there was a seafaring culture in Southern California during 8,000 B.C. During 3,000 B.C., there was the Hokan speaking people in the Milling Stone Period. These human beings fished, hunted sea mammals, and gathered wild seeds. During ca. 300 B.C., the Tataviam or the Fernandeno people inhabited the San Fernando Valley. The Tongva people (in ca. 500 A.D.) replaced them possibly because of drought.
The Tongva people spoke a Uto-Aztecan language called Tongva. These people called the Los Angeles region Yaa in the Tongva language. Europeans traveled into California by the 16th century. The Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo in 1542 navigated to the coast of California. He called the present San Pedro Bay, the “Bay of Smokes.” The European Sebastian Vizcaino of Spain explored the California coast and met some of the locals in 1602. A change happened in 1769. This was when the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola wanted to explore a land route to the port of Monterrey. He did just that and he established the first Spanish settlement in the area. The settler’s name the local river Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula (or the River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula). This settlement grew. Later, Father Junipero Serra created the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, later moved to the present-day city of San Gabriel.
During the 18th century, there were from 250,000 to 300,000 Native Americans in California and 5,000 people in the Los Angeles basin. By the time the Europeans came into California, the Gabrielinos and the Fernandeños grew in size. The Gabrielinos occupied huge lands centuries ago in the realm of about 4,000 square miles in their peak. It included the enormous floodplain drained by the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers and the southern Channel Islands, including the Santa Barbara, San Clemente, Santa Catalina, and San Nicholas Islands. They were part of a sophisticated group of trading partners that included the Chumash to the west, the Cahuilla and Mojave to the east, and the Juaneños and Luiseños to the south. Their trade extended to the Colorado River and included slavery. The Gabrielinos had their own religious and cultural practices. They believed in a Creator god named Chinigchinix. They believed in a female virgin goddess named Chukit. They believed in an afterlife and enacted a purification ritual, which was similar to the Eucharist. As time went on, some of them married with Mexican colonists. From 1769 to 1821, the Los Angeles area was controlled by the Spanish Empire.
Early Los Angeles
Felipe de Neve was one man who was responsible mostly for the founding of Los Angeles in the modern sense. He was a Spanish governor of Las Californias, which included California and Baja California (which is found in Mexico). He allowed people to settle the Missions Santa Barbara and San Jose, which later became California cities. Neve toured Alta California in 1777. Neve gathered families to prepare to settle in modern day Los Angeles. They included Criollo (or local people of Spanish ancestry. The Peninsulares class included Spaniards who were born in Spain. They had more political power than the Criollo), biracial people, and black people too. In the Spanish Empire, there were a caste system which was based on race and class. In September 4, 1781, the Spanish civilian pueblo of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded. A pueblo is a location of a municipality in the Spanish Empire. Los Angeles was a town at first. Its population was small until the 20th century. There was a water system in Los Angeles made up of ditches or zanjas. The settlers were called Pobladores or “townspeople.” Soldiers and more settlers came into the town and stayed. A chapel was built on the Plaza in 1784. Native Americans were used as labor in the area. The pobladores paid the Native Americans for their labor. The settlers saw massive wetlands, deer, antelope, black bears, and even some grizzly bears. Each settler has a four rectangles of land called suertes for farming (and two irrigated plots and two dry ones). Governor Pedro Fages gave more regulations in Los Angeles and some Native Americans received more freedom to work. In 1795, Sergeant Pablo Cota led an expedition from the Simi Valley through the Conejo-Calabasas region and into the San Fernando Valley. His party visited the rancho of Francisco Reyes. They found the local Indians hard at work as vaqueros and caring for crops. In 1784—only three years after the founding—the first recorded marriages in Los Angeles took place. The two sons of settler Basilio Rosas, Maximo and José Carlos, married two young Indian women, whose names are María Antonia and María Dolores. In 1797, Father Fermin Lasuen founded Mission San Fernando, named for King Ferdinand of Spain. It later becomes home to the largest adobe structure in California, 30,000 grape vines and 21,000 head of livestock.
By 1805, the first American trading ship came to San Pedro Bay, south of the Pueblo. Los Angeles back then was under the control of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It has a town council or a cabildo. Its first municipal officers, the regidores (council members) and alcalde (municipal magistrate), were appointed by Governor de Neve. Subsequent ones were elected annually by the settlers, the vecinos pobladores. Since the government of Las Californias had a strong military orientation in this early phase of colonization, the civilian cabildo was originally supervised by acomisionado (commissioner) appointed by the comandante (commander) of the Presidio of Santa Barbara, who was charged with making sure thealcalde and regidores carried out their duties correctly. he first recordedalcalde was José Vanegas, who served in 1786 and 1796. Vanegas was first listed as an Indian in the original 1781 padrón (register) but then as aMestizo in the 1790 census. Yes, there were black people in early Los Angeles as well. Juan Francisco Reyes was a biracial early settler of Los Angeles. Afro-Mexicans were there too in Los Angeles from the beginning.
The Spanish American War
From 1801 to 1821, there was the Mexico’s War of Independence. Mexican people fought against the Spanish Empire for freedom and independence. The Mexican people won and Los Angeles was within the territory of Mexico during that time. Time will change. There was a more secularization of the missions. The ranchos grew more in Los Angeles and the Native American population was displaced or absorbed into the Hispanic population. By 1827, Los Angeles was the largest pueblo of the territory. In 1835 it was made a city by the Mexican Congress, and declared the capital, but the last provision was not enforced and was soon recalled. In 1836–1838, it was the headquarters of Carlos Antonio Carrillo, a legally named but never de facto governor of California, whose jurisdiction was never recognized in the north; and, in 1845–1847, it was the actual capital. People were now cuidadanos or citizens. By 1841, the population of Los Angeles was 1,680. Around this time, the US expanded its territory rapidly. The agenda of Manifest Destiny took shape. That doctrine was evil and it was about white colonists having the right to expand their territories from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean (even if it meant violating people's rights in the process). This ideological extremism influenced the development of the Mexican American war, which started in 1846.
Many people wanted the Manifest Destiny, which led to the U.S. annexation of Texas. The war centered on the disagreement over where the Mexican-American border should be. Mexico believed that the border should be below the Nueces River while American colonists believed that the border should be the Rio Grande river for America. On March 1846, General Zachary Tayler led American troops past the Nueces River towards the Rio Grande River. They wanted to occupy the land below the Nueces River and claim the area east of the Rio Grande for the U.S. General Anastacio Torrejon of Mexico led 2,000 Mexican troops cross north of the Rio Grande River and ambush the U.S. troops at Fort Texas on April 25, 1846. This caused the Mexican-American war to start. Both sides had victories, but America had the majority of the victories especially by the end of the war. Public opinion was divided. Some Americans loved and agreed with the war and others viewed the war as a slick means of America to expand slavery in other territories. President James Polk promoted the war. In California, the Bear Revolt came about when California settlers rebelled against Mexico and called California an independent republic. Mexico couldn’t defend its northern territories since their military forces were over extended. Commodore Robert F. Stockton and John C. Fremont occupied Los Angeles. Governor Pico fled to Mexico. The Battle of Los Angeles caused an American victory over Mexico from September 22 to September 1846. The former dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna left exile in Cuba to come to Mexico as a way for him to fight the USA (in December of 1846). The Treaty of Cahuenga on January 1847 ended the California phase of the Mexican-American war. General Taylor defeated Santa Anna’s forces in the battle of Buena Vista on February 23, 1847. The U.S. forces were largely outnumbered, but they won with the usage of heavy artillery. This victory influenced Taylor to the elected President on 1848. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848. This ended the war completely and caused the U.S. to gain California and a large part of Western America (including Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico). Rio Grande is established as the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Growth of Trade and Immigration
Gold being discovered in 1848 at Coloma caused thousands of miners from Sonora in Northern Mexico to go to the gold fields. The Gold Rush was in northern California, etc. Los Angeles was a place of supplying beefs and other foods to the hungry miners of the north (as in Northern California). Los Angeles during that time was found in lawlessness for a time, because there was the temporary absence of a legal system. There were gamblers, outlaws, etc. Anglo power grew and Juan Flores in 1856 threatened South California with a revolt. He was hanged in Los Angeles in front of 3,000 people. Tiburico Vasquez did actions and he was found guilty of murder and hanged in San Jose in 1875. Vigilance Committees in Los Angeles were bascially lynch mobs. They brutalized people. In fact, between 1850 and 1870, mobs carried out approximately 35 lynchings of Mexicans—more than four times the number that occurred in San Francisco. Los Angeles was described as "undoubtedly the toughest town of the entire nation." Racially motivated violence against Mexicans caused the powers that be to further deprive Mexicans of political and other human rights. Native Americans suffered too after the Mexican-American War. Many innocent Native Americans were killed by white racists. New England author and Native American rights activists Helen Hunt Jackson spoke up against this in 1883. Helen saw how Native Americans in the Los Angeles were hunted for sport, killed, their farmlands were stolen, and some were exterminated by white racists.
Her novel “Ramona” wanted to promote the humanity of Native Americans in the midst of their injustice. Some Native American villages survived by her efforts like Soboba, Temecula, etc. There was massive white racism in Los Angeles back then (and today). From 1848 to the early 20th century, Los Angeles experienced massive changes. The American government controlled Los Angeles and the city’s streets were extended. The real estate business grew. Many of the streets were changed from Spanish to English. There was an Anglo and Mexican tension which grew over lands, resources, and culture. Under this new system, the Chinese, the Italians, the French, and the Mexicans lived near the Plaza while the power elite were in the outskirts of the city. Gold was discovered in 1848 in Coloma. The gold rush would spread from Mexico to Alaska. Los Angeles was used as depot of farmland to feed the miners in the northern part of California who wanted to find more gold. During the Civil War, California was part of the Union.
John Gately Downey, the seventh Governor of California was sworn into office on January 14, 1860, thereby becoming the first Governor from Southern California. Governor Downey was born and raised in Castlesampson, County Roscommon, Ireland, and came to Los Angeles in 1850. He was responsible for keeping California in the Union during the Civil War. Native Americans suffered oppression, discrimination, and murder by racists in Los Angeles. It would be decades after 1850 when Native Americans would have any protection under the law. Anglos readily killed Native Americans and steal their lands all of the time. During the 1870’s, Los Angles had only 5,000 people. The industrial expansion grew resources in the city. The Angeles was the first incorporated bank in Los Angeles, founded in 1871 by John G. Downey and Isaias W. Hellman. Wealthy easterners who came as tourists recognized the growth opportunities and invested heavily in the region. Back then, much of LA County was farmland. There were cattle grown, dairy products, citrus fruits, and fruits. After 1945, most of the farmland was transformed into housing tracts. Railroads grew like the Lost Angeles and San Pedro Railroad came about in October of 1869. Oil was discovered by Edward L. Doheny in 1892 near the present Dodger Stadium. Many fields were created like the Los Angeles City Oil Field. Oil production was a central part of LA economy by the early 20th century.
The Early 20th century
Also, political activists like labor rights activists, socialists, and other revolutionaries wanted justice in Los Angeles. The police broke up meetings of socialists in the Plaza. The labor rights movement grew and the city political elites placed a ban on free speech from public streets and private property except for the Plaza. Locals had claimed that it had been an Open Forum forever. The area was of particular concern to the owners of the L.A. Times, Harrison Grey Otis and his son-in-law Harry Chandler. The police readily suppressed the efforts of the Industrial Workers of the World. On Christmas Day, 1913, police attempted to break up an IWW rally of 500 taking place in the Plaza. Encountering resistance, the police waded into the crowd attacking them with their clubs. One citizen was killed. In the aftermath, the authorities attempted to impose martial law in the wake of growing protests. Seventy-three people were arrested in connection with the riots. The City Council introduced new measures to control public speaking. The Klan, the American Legion, and others would raid IWW Halls and attack men, women, and even children meeting there. The garment industry grew. The Los Angeles River relied heavily from the aquifer under the San Fernando Valley. Government policies have tried to send the water from the San Gabriel Mountains into the sea. The Army Corps of Engineers created dams and basins in the canyons along the San Gabriel Mountains to reduce the debris flows. The Los Angeles Aqueduct was created to help supply water supplies to the people of LA.
Hollywood grew in the Los Angeles area during the early 20th century. It was an independent city in 1903, but it was merged into Los Angeles by 1910.Many movie makers (both Jewish people and non-Jewish people) from New York came to the LA area to do year round location shooting. Hollywood, as we know, grew into a cinematic heart of America. It has been a place where actors, directors, singers, producers, etc. work at. Studios, being large, small, and independent, have their work done in Hollywood. There was the end to racial segregation in municipal swimming pools by the summer of 1931 via a Superior Court Judge after Ethel Prioleau sued the city. Ethel said that her, as a black woman, was not allowed to use the pool in nearby Exposition Park but she had to travel 3.6 miles to the designated “negro swimming pool,” which was morally wrong. Los Angeles hosted the 1932 Summer Olympics. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which had opened in May 1932 with a seating capacity of 76,000, was enlarged. It was enlarged to accommodate over 100,000 spectators for Olympic events. It is still in use by the USC Trojan football team. Olympic Boulevard was the major thoroughfare which honors the occasion. There was the October 3, 1933 Griffith Park brush fire that killed 29 people and injured 150 workers who were clearing brush in Griffith Park. LA was small back then being 28 square miles until the 1890’s. Later, annexations came about. Los Angeles added Highland Pak, Garvanza and the South Los Angeles area. During the early 20th century, Los Angeles annexed more towns and communities like San Pedro, Sawtelle, Hyde Park, Eagle Rock, Watts, Tujunga, etc. During the 1920’s and the 1930’s, the city’s mayor, councilmen, and attorneys took contributions from bootleggers, gamblers, etc. There were Mafia battles over bootlegging and horse racing turf. The LAPD was known for its police brutality back then too. The police Intelligence Squad spied on anyone even suspected of criticizing the police. They included journalist Carey McWilliams, the district attorney, Judge Bowron, and two of the County Supervisors. Many cops on the intelligence squad of the police were convicted for corruption.
The WWII Era
Los Angeles has a very important history during the WWII era from 1941 to 1945. Just before this time, the beginning of Los Angeles International Airport came about in 1929 when the Hangar No 1 was built. The airport was called Mines Field back then in 1930. Later, it expanded into the Los Angeles International Airport or LAX. In 1940, there was the Arroyo Seco Parkway. It opens on the right of way between Downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. This becomes the first controlled limited access highway or freeway. Today, the LA area has 27 interconnecting freeways and the East LA interchange is the busiest in the world. During World War II, Los Angeles grew as a center for production of aircraft, war supplies, and ammunitions. Thousands of people, which included black people and white people from the South and the Midwest, traveled into LA in order for them to fill up factory jobs. Shipbuilding was a huge industry and the Port of Los Angeles employed about 90,000 workers. In fact, one third of all U.S. warplanes were manufactured in Los Angeles.
By 1941, the United States Court house is built the Pueblo Del Riot housing complex is built in 1941 too. In 1942, Los Angeles established its first parking meter. There were also racial tensions not only between whites and blacks in LA back then. There were racial tensions between whites and Hispanics or Latinos during the WWII era too. Many black people and Hispanic people back then opposed segregation and racial oppression in Los Angeles. Zaragosa Vargas’ book entitled, “Labor Rights Are Civil Rights: Mexican-American Workers in 20th Century America” from 2007 has amazing, great research on this issue. The strikes during the New Deal era inspired a younger generation of Mexican Americans to fight for their human rights. This was one foundation of the Chicano civil rights movement which we know about. Now back then, many Mexican Americans were experiencing massive labor exploitation and institutionalized racism throughout the Southwest and the West Coast. Some were forced to live in impoverished barrios and had an inadequate educational system. So, people fought back. There was an explosion of population growth in Los Angeles during the 1940’s.
Thousands of Mexican refugees came into LA since some were refugees fleeing the Mexican Revolution. Many white men were in WWII as soldiers (black soldiers in WWII were in segregated military forces) while women and people of color filed the jobs in the defense industry. Jazz was popular back then like hip hop and pop music are popular today. Jazz was used as a way for people to express defiance against racism and the evil system of white supremacy. So, African Americans and Mexican Americans wore zoot suits as a means for them to defy the evils of segregation and racism. Later, Los Angeles authorities stereotyped Mexican zoot suit wearers as criminals collectively, which was wrong. Most zoot suit wearers were young Mexican Americans while many older Mexican Americans opposed it. Drunken servicemen assaulted Mexican Americans. The Los Angeles newspaper editor Charlotta Bass, California Assemblyman Augustus Hawkins, and the actresses Hattie McDaniel and Lena Horne (all African Americans) joined the Citizens’ Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth in 1942, which was formed by actor Anthony Quinn and Josephine Fierro de Bright (of the Spanish-Speaking People’s Congress). The organization was created in order to defend the eight Mexican American men who were charged with the murder of Jose Diaz. Racists exploited the Sleepy Lagoon Murder case (of 1942, which was about Jose Diaz being murdered. Nine people were convicted and sentenced to prison terms. Innocent people were convicted and their convictions were overturned in 1944). These tensions escalated into a street fight between sailors and Mexican American youth which caused the Zoot Riots. It lasted for a week during June of 1943. It started with Sailor Joe Dacy Coleman. He grabbed a Mexican person and the Mexican used self-defense against Coleman. Other sailors were harassing women and the Mexican youth attacked the servicemen for harassing women. Coleman and other sailors escaped to safety. Later, 50 sailors wanted revenge.
They went to Alpine Street and attacked 12 and 13 year old boys wearing zoot suits. These Mexican boys were innocent. The boys were clubbed mercilessly. Their suits were burned. Later, riots happened. Mexican musicians were attacked when they exited the Aztec Recording company after a recording section. Hundreds of servicemen were in downtown Los Angeles to stalk Mexicans and they assaulted them. This was said by Military Commander Clarence Flogg. Mexican American kids had no choice, but to organize and fight back. Rudy Leyvas was one person who was Mexican American and he fought back. Some black people in Watts were attacked by white racist brutes. Filipinos were victims too by being assaulted by soldiers. This was one of the worst times in American history. After the riots, Mexican Americans were made the scapegoats by the political establishment when the riots occurred as a product of racism. Many post-war activists such as Luis Valdez, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright have claimed that they were inspired by the Zoot Suit Riots. Cesar Chávez was a zoot suiter when he first became interested in politics and zoot suiter Malcolm X took part in the Harlem zoot suit riots. WWII ended in 1945.
In 1952, Los Angeles newspaper editor Charlotta Bass received the Progressive Party nomination for Vice President. She is the first African American woman to be placed on a national party ticket. Charlotta Bass was a black woman in favor of the rights of black people. She was also the first African American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the United States.
An Age of Social Change
Los Angeles is a place during the 1960’s where massive changes occurred. In 1960, the Los Angeles Lakers were formed in the NBA. They were once the Minneapolis Lakers. The Hollywood Walk of Fame opens with a star dedicated to Joanne Woodward embedded in the sidewalk. Also, LA was the city that hosted the National Convention of the Democratic Party. John F. Kennedy was nominated to run for the Presidency in LA. The early 1960’s saw massive brush fires too. The November 1961 fires began. Bel Air and Brentwood including the Santa Ynez fires destroyed 484 expensive homes and 21 other buildings. There was about 15,810 acres of brush being destroyed in the Bel Air, Brentwood, and Topanga Canyon neighborhoods. There was the fair housing conflict in LA too. Los Angeles had racist policies via restrictive covenants (not like de jure segregation, but it was wrong) in real estate. Even during WWII, 95 percent of Los Angeles housing was off-limits to black people and Asians. Minorities experienced discrimination in housing.
The Chicano human rights movement in Los Angeles grew during the 1960’s. One person part of this movement was Salvador B. Castro. He was an educator and had a huge role in the East Los Angeles high school walkouts. He and others wanted better conditions in the Los Angeles United School District or the LAUSD. In 1963, he and others in the Chicano Youth Leadership Conferences (CYLC) wanted to advance educational rights for Hispanic students. Back then, the CYLC fought for bilingual and culturally relevant education and systemic reforms to give students the opportunity to achieve higher education. The Brown Berets were support of this movement too. To the day he has passed in 2013, Castro has fought for educational rights of the citizens of Los Angeles.
Many minorities were forced to live in housing in East or South Los Angeles, Watts, and Compton during the 1960's. These racist real-estate practices severely restricted educational and economic opportunities. This is why civil rights activists fought back against oppression. Police brutality against black people and Latino people were an epidemic during the 1960’s. People complained about William Parker’s LAPD harsh tactics against people. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art opened in 1965. Today it is the largest art museum in the western United States, anchor of the Museum Corridor along Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile. Voters passed a referendum in November 1964 that gutted the state's fair housing laws, making it clear to Black workers that the supposedly liberal state was entrenching racial segregation, even as it was outlawed in the South. The following month, a U.S. Department of Commerce study, "Hard Core Unemployment and Poverty in Los Angeles," detailed the crisis of housing, the high incidence of disease and other issues. In March 1965, five continuous days of civil rights demonstrations outside the Federal Building pointed to an increase in Black activism in the city. The growth of racism, police brutality, and community problems caused the Watts Riots to develop from August 11-17, 1965.
The Watts rebellion started after a police incident. The police harassment of a Black motorist was only the trigger. The Watts Rebellion happened after a 21 year old African American Marquette Frye was arrested because of failing a sobriety test. Rena Price was at the scene (at the intersection of Avalon Boulevard and 116th Street) and she is Frye’s mother. Ronald or Marquette’s brother was there too. Someone shoved Rena Price and Frye was struck. Rena Price jumped an officer, and another officer pulled out a shotgun. Backup police officers attempted to arrest Frye by using physical force to subdue him. An officer then struck Marquette’s head with his nightstick, and all three of the Fryes were arrested. After rumors spread that the police had roughed Frye up and kicked a pregnant woman, angry mobs formed. Tensions rose and the throwing of objects escalated into rebellion. Black community leaders tried to form an action plan to end tensions. Later, the Los Angeles police Chief Parker called for the California Army National Guard to come. The rebellion grew and by August 13, about 2,300 National Guardsmen joined the police. Burnt buildings, assaults, massive arrests, and wake up calls for many were events that happened during the Watts rebellion. 34 people died and 1,032 people were injured. About 3,925 people have been arrested. An estimated $40 million in damage existed and almost 1,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. We know that poverty, high unemployment, poor schools, and bad living conditions contributed to the cause of the rebellion. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave eloquent words on the Watts rebellion. He said the following words on the rebellion (via his press release on August 20, 1965):
"...After visiting the area of the recent riots and talking with hundreds of people of all walks of life it is my opinion that these riots grew out of the depths of despair which afflict a people who see no way out of their economic dilemma. There are serious doubts that the white community is in any way concerned or willing to accommodate their needs. There is also a growing disillusionment and resentment toward the Negro middle class and the leadership which it has produced. This ever widening breach is a serious factor which leads to the feeling that they are alone in their struggle and must resort to any method to gain attention to their plight. The nonviolent movement of the South has meant little to them since we have been fighting for rights which theoretically are already theirs. Their fight is for dignity and work. This is the reason that the issue of police brutality looms so high. The slightest discourtesy on the part of an officer of the law is a deprivation of the dignity which most of the residents of Watts came North seeking. But the main is economic. Unless some work can be found for the unemployed and underemployed we continually face the possibility of this kind of outbreak at every encounter with police authority…But let us not assume that this is a situation pecular to Los Angeles alone. It is a national problem…”
In 1963, California Legislature passed and Governor Pat Brown signed the Rumford Fair Housing Act which outlawed restrictive covenants and the refusal to rent or sell housing on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, or physical disability. Governor Pat Brown was a progressive governor as he promoted the California Aqueduct, and education. Yet, the reactionaries promoted Proposition 14, which would ban the Rumford Fair Housing Act. It must be known that the then Governor Ronald Reagan (who defeated Governor Edmund Brown. Reagan was inaugurated on January 2, 1967) supported Proposition 14, which outlines his extremism. The good news is that the California Supreme Court in 1966 and he U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 (in Reitman v. Mulkey) said that the Proposition 14 was unconstitutional in violation of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The federal U.S. Fair Housing Act would be passed in 1968. The growth of the Black Panther Party in Los Angeles is very important to know as well. African Americans have grown in political power during this time period. In 1966, Mervyn Dymally, a Los Angeles teacher and politician, became the first African American to serve in the California State Senate. He went on to be elected as Lieutenant Governor in 1974.
Also in 1966, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, an attorney from Los Angeles, became the first African American woman in the California Legislature and in 1972 became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress from the West Coast. She served in Congress from 1973 until the end of 1978. The Hispanic and the Chicano civil rights movement grew during the 1960’s in Los Angeles. They wanted human rights. In 1968, Latino high school students in Los Angeles stage city wide walkouts to protest unequal treatment by the school districts. Latino students were punished for just speaking Spanish on school property. Some were not allowed to use the bathroom during lunch and some experience police brutality including public ridicule. The walkouts later caused school reform and an increase of college enrollment among Latino youth. In June 5, 1968, Democratic Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles at the Ambassador Hotel. So, the 1960’s had large revolutionary changes inside of the city of Los Angeles. In the very near future, I'm going to write a lot of information about Los Angeles (in terms of its history, its culture, and the whole nine yards).
"The Breakfast for Children Program," wrote Hoover in an internal FBI memo in May 1969, "represents the best and most influential activity going for the BPP and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for." The breakfast program was effectively shut down by daily arrests of members; however, those charges were usually dropped within a week. Later in 1969, Hoover sent orders to FBI field offices: "exploit all avenues of creating dissension within the ranks of the BPP", and "submit imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP.” The Black Panthers were rivals of the Black Nationalist groups Organization Us or US. It was founded by the reactionary Ron Karenga. Both groups had a high number of members. In 1969, the two groups supported different candidates to head the Afro-American Studies Center at UCLA (since both groups had different arms and tactics). On January 17, 1969, there was a meeting of the Black Student Union at UCLA’s Campbell Hall. Bunchy Carter and another BPP member named Huggins were heard making derogatory comments about Ron Karenga, the head of Organization US. Other accounts mention a heated argument between US members and Panther Elaine Brown. An altercation ensued during which Carter and Huggins were shot to death. BPP members said that it was a planned assassination and that the FBI had a covert role in the death of Carter and Huggins. Organization US members said that the meeting was a spontaneous event. Former BPP deputy minister of defense Geronimo Pratt, Carter’s head of security at the time, later stated that rather than a conspiracy, the UCLA incident was a spontaneous shootout. The person, who allegedly shot Carter and Huggins, Claude Hubert, was never found. We do know that the FBI’s COINTELPRO actions caused FBI agents to fan divisions and enmity between the BPP and the US Organization (as documented by the Church Committee hearing of 1975).
According to a black former FBI informant named D’Arthard Perry (aka Ed Riggs. He reported to FBI agents Brandon Cleary, Will Heaton, and Michael Quinn) said that George Stiner, Larry Stiner, and Claude Hubert went to the FBI building in LA. FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen said that George Stiner and Larry Stiner were the killers and both of them are FBI informants. The FBI sent fake threats and evil cartoons among both sides, so both sides can be divided (or this was a divide and conquer strategy). After the UCLA incident, George and Larry Stiner and Donald Hawkins turned themselves in. They had issued warrants for their arrests. They were sent to jail. COINTELPRO leader Richard Held was one person who used cartoons to agitate conflict between the Panthers and the US. 4 Black Panthers were killed by US members in 1969. Ron Karenga since the 1960’s has been accused of being an FBI agent. Former FBI infiltrator and agent provocateur Earl Anthony accused Ron Karenga of being an FBI informant. Maulana Karenga (who is a reactionary) founds the black nationalist group, US, in Los Angeles following the Watts Uprising in 1965. The LAPD raided Black Panthers areas and arrested 75 members. On September 8, 1969, armed police raided the Watts breakfast program. On Oct. 10, 1969 the LAPD had a shoot-out with some Panthers. Panther Bruce Richards was wounded and charged with attempted murder, and Panther Walter Toure Poke was killed. The LA BPP office was raided again on October 18, 1969. By December 8, 1969, the LAPD used its new SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics or the militarized police unit), teams, a warrant, a battering ram, helicopters, a tank, trucks, dynamite, and 400 police officers to raid 3 L.A. BPP facilitates including the Central Ave. headquarters. The Panthers stood their grounds and surrender to the police. The attacks on the rank and file continued. On Nov. 4, 1970, the LAPD raided the L.A. BPP's child care center, rounded up children, and held guns on them while officers beat up an adult Panther. Police claimed to be responding to a landlord complaint of children in the building. Geronimo Pratt was arrested in the raid. He was accused of murdering a white school teacher Caroline Olsen. Pratt was convicted in 1972, he denied guilt, and he was only released a few years ago. He recently passed away in 2011. The LA Black Panther Party ended by the 1970’s.
Political Issues and Social Issues
From the 1970’s to the 1990’s, radical changes came in Los Angeles. There was deindustrialization in which automobile factories became to be shut down from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. Tire factories and steel mills left LA. Many of the agricultural and diary operations that were prospering in the 1950’s have moved to other counties. The furniture industry moved greatly into Mexico and other low wage nations. In 1971, the San Fernando earthquake happened and the Los Angeles Convention Center opens. Tom Bradley becomes the first African American mayor of Los Angeles in 1973. There has been the growth of television and music industries in Los Angeles. That is why people come to Los Angeles all of time as a way for them to try to get an entertainment career. CBS Television City, 20th Century Fox, and other studios operate in LA. Many Japanese firms like Toyota have moved to LA or to surrounding areas. There is a strong port system in Los Angeles and Long Beach, which makes up the nation’s largest harbor port. It handles 44 percent of all goods imported by cargo container into America. There was an economy boom from 1985 to 1990. The catch is that the income gap between the rich and the poor has massive increase since the 1980's. Los Angeles is the most socioeconomically divided city in America today.
During 1984, there was the Historic Summer Olympics taking place in the great city of Los Angeles, California. The torch ceremony started in New York City and ended in Los Angeles. It lasted for a time and its spread into 33 states including the District of Columbia. Etta James performed the National Anthem of the United States at the Opening Ceremony. Before the Olympics, Los Angeles had a 10 week long adjunct Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival, which was opened on June 2 and ended on August 12. It had more than 400 performances by 146 theater, dance, and music companies (representing every continent and 18 countries).CalArts President Robert Fitzpatrick organized it. The Olympics had Carl Lewis to win our gold medals in the 100m, 200 m, 4 X 100 m relay, and the long jump. Edwin Moses won the gold medal in the 400m hurdles 8 years after winning it in 1976. Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco became the first female Olympic champion of a Muslim nation—and the first of her country—in the 400 m hurdles. Carlos Lopes from Portugal won the Marathon with a time of 2:09:21. Joan Benoit won the marathon for women. Li Ning from China won many medals in gymnastics. He was nicknamed “Prince of Gymnasts” in China. Mary Lou Retton became the first gymnast outside Eastern Europe to win the gymnastics all-around competition. As for Basketball, the United States men team would win gold. The 1984 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team was coached by Indiana Hoosiers head coach Bobby Knight. Connie Carpenter-Phinney became the first woman to win an Olympic cycling event when she won the women's individual road race. Venues were all over Los Angeles and the South California area. The Olympics concluded of course with fireworks. Speaking of sports, the LA Lakers won many NBA Championships during the 1980's too.
Gangs have always existed in Los Angeles and all over America for decades and centuries. During the 1920's, Black and Hispanic gangs were modernized. There are white gangs like the Hells Angels, Skinheads, etc. From the 1970’s, more gangs were acting in a direction of survival and showing more nihilistic violence (instead of limited rivalries). One reason is the growth of income inequality poverty, and bad social conditions. In 1955, Nickerson Gardens was built, which was the city’s largest public housing complex with 1,100 units in the Watts neighborhood. Many gangs were created as a way for people to protect themselves from racism and discrimination. Street clubs were formed in 1950 as a way for black people to defend themselves from white racist gangs who were attacking black people. Gangs in LA have been based on neighborhood, race, and nationality. The Slausons was a famous LA gang which existed before the Crips.
There are gangs made up of Hispanics, black people, Filipinos, whites, Chinese individuals, Cambodians, Samoans, Japanese people, and I can go down the list. Hundreds of gangs exist in Los Angeles. Some of the famous gangs are the Crips, the Bloods, MS-13, Mexican Mafia (and their affiliations), etc. Raymond Washington formed the Baby Avenues in 1964. He founded the Crips in the date of October 13, 1969. The Crips expanded quickly in Los Angeles and throughout the nation. Stanley Tookie Williams joined the Crips in 1971. On December 1973, The Piru Street Boys formed the Blood gang. The Bloods acted as a rival gang to the Crips since the Bloods was an alliance of people who originally opposed the actions of the Crips. Raymond Washington was murdered in 1979 by a person. By the 1980’s, violent, criminal gangs were involved in the drug trade like the Mexican Mafia, the Crips, the Bloods, etc. The Drug Trade and the War on Drugs harmed communities all over Los Angeles of every color. Crack cocaine came into LA in January 1981. Militarized police or SWAT Teams would harass poor and communities of color during the 1980's. Poverty would plague LA including police brutality. Movies like Boyz N the Hood (which came out in 1991), whose Director John Singleton is a South Central native including musicians like Ice Cube (of NWA) would describe the reality of the inner city. I don't about agree with any misogynistic lyrics in any songs (I don't believe in using the N word), but the brutality of black people and others in Los Angeles by crooked cops should never be ignored. Police brutality is a serious problem today and black people have every right to resist oppression period. The Ramparts scandal of the 1990's documents massive police corruption during that decade.
Rodney King was unjustly assaulted by numerous police officers. All of the officers were white. When, the officers were all acquitted originally, people were legitimately outraged and the LA Rebellion happened in 1992. This occurred when I was in elementary school. Rebellion happened in Los Angeles and all over the county. National Guard troops were sent by then President George H. W. Bush to respond to the situation. From 1992-1993, the Blood and the Crips would have a truce. Afterwards, some cops were convicted, but it were just cosmetic convictions. By the mid-1990s, there are 650,000 gang members in the U.S. and 150,000 in Los Angeles County alone. Blood and Crip gang factions are found throughout the U.S. as well as abroad. In the 21st century, Tookie Williams died via the death penalty in 2005. Some think that he was innocent, some view him as guilty, Tookie Williams proclaimed his innocence throughout his life. Tookie Williams before he passed would condemn violence and write children's stories as a way to teach people about love, respect, and solving problems constructively. LA issued gang injunctions massively in 2004 and 2006. Gang violence is a reality in LA. The crime rate in Los Angeles now has gone down since the 1990’s. One important point is to be mentioned. It is not enough to condemn crime. We have to use programs to end the War on Drugs, end police brutality, and to end the corruption found in the prison industrial complex (as the system of mass incarceration must end), so people can live fuller, healthier lives. We know that rap music is never the cause of drugs, violence, and poverty in our society. We need solutions and not the scapegoating suffering people.
There is an elephant in the room. There is an issue that many people outside of LA don’t discuss about much. You know what I’m going to mention next. There has been Black vs. Brown tensions for decades. Yet, it wasn’t always in this level. From the 1940’s to the early 1990’s, rarely would Black and Brown gangs attack each other (out of racial reasons). It escalated into another level by the early 1990’s in LA. There have been killings of black people in Los Angeles by racist Latino gangs. Similar attacks have taken place in Harbor Gateway, Highland Park, Pacoima, San Bernardino, Canoga Park and Wilmington, among other places. In Highland Park the Avenues gang since the late 1990s has been actively using aggressive violent tactics to discourage black residents from living in the area. RIP Brothers Christopher Bowser and RIP Kenneth Kurry Wilson. Many gangs from prisons (a lot of tensions comes from the prison system. In prisons, many people are segregated by race and by gang affiliation in order to survive. Northern CA Latino gangs ally with black gangs and Southern CA Latino gangs ally with white gangs even with the Aryan Brotherhood. These tensions spread into to the streets) have ordered attacks on black people. Some Latinos have been unjustly assaulted and killed too. I heard of this tension years ago. Activists have tried to establish solutions to end these tensions. Progress has been made, but we have a long way to go. This is not just a West Coast problem. It occurs nationwide. This doesn’t mean that every Latino is a racist. We know that the vast majority of Latino people are not racists. It does mean that some people are doing evil and they are wrong for doing so. At the end of the day, the system of white supremacy (not Latino people) is the enemy. I will never be follow Tea Party extremists and be anti-immigrant. Black people just like Latino people have a great history and a strong cultural heritage. Black people, Hispanic people, and all people should have freedom, justice, and equality. There is no excuse for anyone to harm any innocent human being.
Socioeconomic problems and misunderstandings have fueled these tensions. Many Black people feel that their economic resources are being stripped by non-black people and many Hispanic people feel that undocumented workers are being scapegoated for society’s ills. When you look at the big picture, we see how capitalist elites and other forces use divide and conquer strategies in order to cause tensions among ethnic groups while they or big business capitalists make huge profits of the backs of the suffering of people of color including the poor (big corporations made huge money from the prison system, the economic system, and in the political system. It is important to note the history of Black and Brown Coalitions like the Black Panthers working with the Brown Berets and other movements in our generation. "Black and Brown" by Gerald Horne is a great book on showing information on how black people and Hispanic people have worked together). Likewise, black people have every right to fight for black liberation.
I always believe in RBG 4 Life. Uhuru Sasa,
During the 1990’s, Los Angeles transformed a lot. In 1990, the Metro Blue Line connected Downtown to Long Beach. This caused the light rail for commuters to return to the Los Angeles area. It will be joined by four other subway/rail lines and busways. Magic Johnson would retire the first time in 1991 saying that he was HIV positive courageously. He gave HIV/AIDS a new platform and he made it clear that this disease can affect anyone. The Japanese American National Museum opened in 1992 in Little Tokyo. It shows the stories of Japanese Americans. In 1993, the Museum of Tolerance opened in Western LA. It focuses on the Nazi Holocaust, tolerance, and racism in general. By 1999, The STAPLES Center arena opens. This is the new home for basketball, hocky teams, and the beginning of a renaissance in Downtown Los Angeles.
Los Angeles in the 21st century
Los Angeles during the 21st century started with massive changes. The Dolby Theatre came about in 2001 in Los Angeles. It is the new venue for the Academy Awards. During the 21st century, overall crime rates in Los Angeles became to go down. Mayor James Hahn made the mistake of firing the popular Chief Bernard and replace him with the Chief Bill Bratton (who was involved in Stop and frisk policies in NYC). This caused Villaraigosa to be mayor of LA (since a coalition of Black and Latino voters voted for him). Also, another historic event came about in Los Angeles in 2005. Antonio Villaraigosa became the first Hispanic American to be mayor of Los Angeles since 1872. After his election, Newsweek featured him on the cover with the headline “Latino Power.” There is nothing wrong with Black Power either. In 2006, the Getty Museum in Malibu reopens after years of renovation as the Getty Villa, housing the foundation’s significant collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Educational issues have existed in LA for a long time, but this time, the issue of charter schools and school cuts come about in a higher level. Our education system should never serve the needs of the free market or private interests. It should serve the needs and aspirations of the people alone. Even some Democratic politics agree with the privatization of education. Like in the past, Los Angeles faces the evils of racism, economic inequality, poverty, and immigration issues. Many black people have left Los Angles, but black people have the most people living in Los Angeles than any other Western city . Also, in 2006, anti-immigration forces supported the federal Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437). The act would make "unlawful presence" an "aggravated felony." On 25 March, a million Latinos staged La Gran Marcha on City Hall to protest the bill. It was the largest demonstration in California history. Similar protests in other cities across the country made this a turning point in the debate on immigration reform.
To this very day, immigration is an important issue that is being discussed in America. I believe in progressive immigration policies. One serious problem in LA is about poverty and economic inequality. The percentage of people living below the derisory official poverty line in Los Angeles County has climbed to 19.1 percent. Los Angeles added a million residents between 1980 and 2010; however, during that same time, the city lost 165,000 jobs. In 1980, Los Angeles had 12 Fortune 500 companies headquartered within its city limits—now it has 4. So, we need our infrastructure in America to be rebuild not just in LA, but nationwide. We see black people fighting for freedom and liberation in Los Angeles today. There are police brutality issues in Los Angeles. Many people have been killed by the police and these people were unarmed. Ezell Ford was killed by the LAPD too and recently officials found out that the officers violated policy in their actions. In 2015, Charley Saturmin Robinet was killed in 2015. That is why protesters continue involving the Black Lives Matter Movement and other social justice movements (who are fighting against lax wages. $7.25 an hour is just unlivable especially in our time). On June 2015, Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour (by 2020), which was very historic. The Fight for 15 movement was heavily vital in getting this new policy enacted. This is great news. The journey for justice will continue in LA and throughout the Earth. The Special Olympics going on in Los Angeles in 2015 is great, because all of humanity deserve dignity and the means to express great talents. I respect the Special Olympics a great deal. Sister Rachel Robinson (who is a civil rights activist and the wife of the late Jackie Robinson), who was born in Los Angeles, said these great words:
"...I think at any age, one can look around in your own setting and in your own family and find ways to contribute to social change. When you see attitudes that hurt others, or limit their opportunities, you can say to yourself: what is my part in this? Can I be a catalyst for change in my school, on my block, in my church, wherever I am? The question is: do I have a responsibility for others? I would say yes because I passionately believe that we are linked as human beings. Our destinies are intertwined. And what is happening to me ultimately is having an impact on you. So, if someone is homeless, uneducated, without medical care, without support, I have to feel some responsibility for them, and do whatever I can think to do. We all need to stand up and be counted..."
The Culture of Los Angeles
Los Angeles has a very diverse culture. African Americans have lived in Los Angeles since its founding in 1781. Black people had legal discrimination in 1848 when California was handed over to the United States. In 1880, a large number of black people came to LA after the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad. By 1900, 2,131 African Americans lived in Los Angeles. One huge staple of black culture in Los Angeles deals with the black church. The black church has inspired people and helped people for years. The First African Methodist Church of Los Angeles was created in 1872. An African American woman and nurse Biddy Mason and her son in law Charles Owens sponsored it. The NAACP in LA was formed in 1913. Jazz as greatly used by black people during the early to mid-20th century, especially along Central Avenue. Jazz legend Charles Mingus was born in LA in 1922. He was raised mostly in Watts and recorded in a band in Los Angeles during the 1940’s. Ray Charles lived in Los Angeles too. The Wattstax celebration of 1972 took place in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Over 100,000 Black residents of Los Angeles attended the concert to celebrate black pride. A documentary was released about the concert in 1973. Tom Bradley was the first African American mayor of Los Angles. He was mayor for 20 years. Over the recent years, many black people have moved out of Los Angeles to either to the suburbs, areas outside of LA, or across America. There is a massive African American art culture in Leimert Park, which is a mostly African American neighborhood found in LA. There is the California African American Museum. It was created in 1981 where research on African Americans from California and the Western USA is especially found. There are massive collections of books, objects, photographs, memorabilia and other items. Watts Coffee house is found on 103rd Street. It serves the community with soul food, walls have African American themed movie posters, and there are jazz album covers too. The Watts Towers Art Center shows lectures, exhibits, studios, and other parts of the black American experience. Harold and Belle’s is a great restaurant filled with Southern cuisine in LA too.
Hispanic culture has a long history. Dances, art, music, and cuisine (which are Hispanic) all are found in Los Angeles. Most residents of LA are Hispanic. Mexicans, Central Americans, Puerto Ricans, and other Latino are found in Los Angeles. Every year, there is the Dia de Los Muertos celebration in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Dia de Los Muertos is Spanish for “Day of the Dead.” People pray and remember loved ones lost over the years. Aztec ritual dancers, art galleries, Mexican food vendors, etc. are found in the celebration. There is Cinco de Mayo which celebrates Mexican independence from Spain each year. There is Mariachi Plaza where parties are found. You can find the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, which represents the birth of LA as a city. There is the colorful Mexican marketplace known as Olvera Street. Tourists are found there. Latino American theater is found in Los Angeles like the 24th Street Theater and the Los Angeles Theater Center.
Asians are found all over Los Angeles. In LA County alone, there are almost 1.5 million Asian human beings. There are Chinese, Cambodian, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean, Hawaiian, Sri Lankan, Thai, Samoan, and Pacific Islanders, Indian, and Pakistani people in Los Angeles. Chinatown in found in Los Angeles including Koreatown. These are communities of various ethnic groups with their own culture. There are Italians, Armenians, and other ethnic groups in California as well.