This coming October 9, at 6 p.m., I will be participating in a panel on Civic Action and Community Voice in South L.A. as part of USC's Visions and Voices series.
Visions and Voices is the dynamic arts and humanities initiative established in 2006. The goal was to feature critically acclaimed artists and distinguished speakers, theatrical productions, music and dance performances, film screenings, lectures, and workshops on a variety of themes to challenge the USC community to expand their perspectives, become world-class citizens, and make a positive impact throughout the world.
Given the changes sparked by USC's expansion of its physical footprint in South L.A. and how the desire for a secure campus has exacerbated tensions between the campus community and the longer-term residents in the process (see here, here, here), it seems like an appropriate moment for the program to take a closer look at its relationship with the community it calls home.
The first will look at community building in and around USC and South Los Angeles, with a focus on movements and organizations that are responding to the disparities and injustices that structure life in South L.A. Speakers will include Alberto Retana, the Executive Vice President of grassroots organization extraordinaire Community Coalition (see our recent coverage of them here), Francisco Ortega, the immigration-policy advisor and South L.A. policy advisor for the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, Erin Aubry Kaplan, a journalist and columnist who writes about African American life in Los Angeles for a variety of outlets, and me, the Communities Editor for South L.A. and Boyle Heights here at Streetsblog L.A.
The second event will look at some of the efforts made by local activists to tackle injustice through the arts, recreation, and access to healthy food. Panelists for that event, to be held February 26th, include artist Ben Caldwell of Leimert Park's KAOS Network, Karen Mack, founder of LA Commons, Neelam Sharma, head of Community Services Unlimited, and Javier "JP" Partida, leader of the Watts-based Los Ryderz Bike Club.
The last, to be held March 7th, will entail a walking tour of South Los Angeles led by Karen Mack. In line with the larger mission of LA Commons, the tour will highlight public art projects in the area that validate the importance of local narratives and encourage ties between people and places.
For my own part, I'm very excited to have the opportunity to shed light on an area I love deeply but which has been much maligned over the years. And I'm excited to share the stage with people who are so firmly grounded in the community and have worked consistently and tirelessly to change both the narratives about and the realities that oppress the neighborhoods that comprise South L.A.
I hope you'll come listen in, share your perspective, and continue the conversation with us at the reception that follows on October 9. They do ask, however, that you please RSVP to ensure you'll have a space: USC Students, Staff and Faculty can click here, USC Alumni, click here, and the General Public can click here to do so, or contact email@example.com. If you need more information, the event page can be found here.
Date: October 9, 2014 Time: 6 - 7:30 pm, reception to immediately follow event. Location: Room G26 at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (search for "ASC"), with reception to follow on the 2nd floor patio.
Sahra is Communities Editor for Streetsblog L.A., covering the intersection of mobility with race, class, history, representation, policing, housing, health, culture, community, and access to the public space in Boyle Heights and South Central Los Angeles.