Longtime Compton Resident Experienced Neighborhood Unity, Not Racial Prejudice

Departures is KCET's oral history and interactive documentary project that thoroughly explores neighborhoods through the people that live there. In January, SoCal Focus is taking readers through the Richland Farms series one day at a time.

Marie Hollis is one of the many African-Americans who migrated from the South to the West after World War II. Where she eventually settled, and still lives, is Compton's Richland Farms.

After an upsetting burglary in her previous neighborhood, her husband was exploring the Compton area and ended up in Richland Farms. "Having grown up on a farm, this area appealed to him because, you know, it brought back memories," she said of the agriculture nature of the area.

They ended up purchasing a one-acre lot that was said to be once home to 10,000 chickens housed in six barns in the backyard. And attached to the house was a slaughterhouse for those chickens.

What was surprised Hollis were the sounds, or lack thereof. "When night fell it was just eerie because you didn't hear the traffic, you didn't hear the cars," she explained. But times have changed and now more cars blasting hip-hop or banda can be heard up and down her street, where yet another difference can be seen: more horses. "This is a common scene now," she said as a man walking a horse walked by. Years back horses mainly stayed on people's properties, she added.

Hollis moved to Richland Farms after the Watts Riots of 1965, when Compton's demographic from very white to very black was quickly changing, Nonetheless, she's never felt any racial prejudice and instead has a rather strong sense of neighborhood unity. For example, one recent neighborhood issue has been permit parking.

The Departures Richland Farms series is broken down into two parts as interactive murals: The Past and The Present. The above information is based on The Past's fifth mural hotspot, where three additional video interviews with Hollis can be found.

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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