Leimert Park for the past several decades has been considered a hub of African American arts and culture. From literature and poetry, to jazz and hip hop, the 1.2 square-mile neighborhood known as Leimert Park possesses a unique creative energy that has given the area a reputation as "the black Greenwich Village," as noted by film director and resident John Singleton.
But it wasn't always that way. Originally built in the 1920's as a white middle-class planned community, Leimert Park, like many other neighborhoods in L.A. post-WWII, experienced what scholars describe as "white flight" -- when the prevalence of automobiles combined with the outlawing of racial covenants prompted many residents to "flee" to the newly developed suburbs. The area then became home to large Japanese and African American communities, and after the Watts turmoil of 1966, became a predominantly African American community.
Today, as the Metro Crenshaw Line is expected to include a stop in the neighborhood, Leimert Park is at a crucial moment in its history. Business owners and stakeholders struggle to keep the area's cultural heritage, while the hike in real state interest due to the Metro stop may push them out of their neighborhood.
Youth Voices is a digital literacy and civic engagement program that invites youth to explore their neighborhood and become active participants in all aspects of their community. Take a look at some of their work and the Youth Voices curriculum.