African Americans and Los Angeles
Six times a year, the editors of the Oxford African American Studies Center provide insights into black history and culture, showing ways in which the past and present interact by offering specially commissioned featured essays, photographic essays, and a selected list of articles that will further guide the reader. The latest Focus On looks at African American history in and around Los Angeles.
Jervey Tervalon is the award winning author of several books, including Understand This, a novel based on his experience teaching at Locke High School in Los Angeles. He is also the founder and director of Literature for Life, an educational advocacy organization and literary magazine. Here, he shares his personal experience of Los Angeles' changing demographics throughout the decades. Read full essay
This series of photos of modern Los Angeles by Dr. Michael Cheers, Associate Professor of Photojournalism at San José State University, shows the array of African American culture and history woven into the city. A memorial to Biddy Mason, former slave and pioneering philanthropist in the 1800's, reveals some of the city's earlier history, and we also see locations and communities like Leimert Park Village and Crenshaw High School which have produced a number of well known artists and athletes.
View photo essay
The following entries have been selected to help guide readers who want to understand more about the African American experience in Los Angeles.
Primary Source Documents