South L.A. community organizer and streets advocate extraordinaire Tafarai Bayne was often seen exploring the vast landscape of Los Angeles on “The Flash,” his recently retired bicycle.
Despite The Flash’s retirement, Bayne’s passion for the cycling community remains a prevalent aspect in his work.
On December 7th, 2014, Bayne was joined by tens of thousands of Angelenos as CicLAvia cycled through South L.A. neighborhoods, from Leimert Park to Central Avenue via Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard.
CicLAvia’s South L.A. route was a monumental event for multiple reasons: not only was it the first CicLAvia held through and for South L.A. communities, it was also the first route that Bayne had a strong hand in planning and executing after helping plan the event in previous years.
“The route in December was the culmination of years of work that I and some good friends/allies started in 2010 after I got the chance to attend the first CicLAvia,” wrote Bayne.
In association with TRUST South L.A., Bayne approached Joe Linton, then an organizer for CicLAvia (and currently the editor of Streetsblog Los Angeles). Despite Linton’s warnings of a lengthy planning process (written about by Streetsblog L.A.’s Sahra Sulaiman here) — one that ultimately lasted about four years — Bayne was determined to bring the cycling event to his community.
His interest in elevating communities like South L.A. had begun at an early age.
Born in Watts, Bayne was raised in the city’s Crenshaw District. As a student at Downtown Business Magnet, he often found himself navigating Los Angeles on city buses to get to classes held in downtown spaces. He credits the combination of his upbringing and the commutes that allowed him to experience the ambiance of multiple neighborhoods with giving him a lens to think critically about his city and the number of ways in which communities like South L.A. were often overlooked.
It was teacher-turned-UTLA secretary, Daniel Barnhart, that helped him think about how to channel his passion for social justice and the advancement of his community into advocacy.
“I was introduced by [Barnhart] to the idea of advocacy and community organizing,” said Bayne. “He’s an organizer for the teachers’ union now, but at the time he was going to the [1999 World Trade Organization] protests in Seattle. He’d come back and show us his gas masks and talk [to us] about challenging what people were perceiving as unjust, unfair laws. People weren’t getting a say on how things were being decided or on the impacts they were feeling. This really got me thinking about engaging in Los Angeles.”
Now attuned to the significance of public policy, Bayne didn’t wait long to test out what he’d learned. After graduating high school, he volunteered at the “Convergence Center” at the 2000 Democratic National Convention — the gathering site for protesters and community organizers from around the country. He then went on to intern with Public Allies. It was through this internship that Bayne was placed at Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), where he was brought on board, first, as an intern and then as full-time staff. Bayne later found himself returning to Public Allies and, finally, spending seven years working at TRUST South L.A., an organization that addresses affordable housing (and, more recently, mobility) challenges in South L.A., and shifting his attention toward urban planning. Read more…