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No Longer Overlooked: Gregory Everett's Impact on Black Los Angeles

A collage image of the same African American man in different stages of his life.
A collage image of Gregory Everett. | Photos courtesy of Rick "Rick Rock" Aaron and Gregory Everett. Flyers courtesy of Lawrence Gilliam. Collage by Milly Chi.
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The following series documents key aspects of life in Black Los Angeles, informed by the archives and work of Gregory Everett, and guided by Dr. Daniel E. Walker.

From his west side party series Ultra Wave, to his seminal documentary on the untold history of L.A.’s Black Panthers, to the community work he did in the Crenshaw District to fight gentrification, almost everything that Gregory Everett (or G-Bone as he was affectionately known) created was personal, tied to a specific space and time period. Despite all that Everett accomplished, and the many famous friends and future stars that he worked with over his decades-long career, Everett’s impact stayed relatively underground when he was alive. Last January, Everett died due to complications from COVID-19. He leaves behind a wife, two sons and an archive of material that has largely gone unpublished.

To honor Everett’s life and legacy of documenting what is important to the community, KCET is publishing a three-part series honoring the stories that became throughlines in his life. For the past several months, we’ve been exploring Everett’s vast archive and impact through interviews with his family, collaborators, colleagues and admirers, which has developed into a three-part story series.

In part one, we jump back to mid-1980s Los Angeles to highlight a brief but influential period of time in L.A.’s nightlife scene, when Everett threw 21-and-under parties that attracted thousands of high school students, helping to pave the way for what became West coast hip-hop and gangster rap. Then, we explore Everett’s efforts to restore the Crenshaw Wall and fight back against gentrification infiltrating the Crenshaw District. Lastly, in part three, we take a look at Everett’s vast archive, his seminal documentary on the Black Panthers and the history of Black filmmakers in Los Angeles. Read the stories in the links below:

In many ways, Everett was ahead of his time. He knew the importance of documenting everything long before cell phone cameras, social media and influencers were a thing. He documented niche movements like the dance teams tied to the parties he threw in the mid-1980s and the krump dancing scene before it caught on. He also worked with community leaders such as the late Nipsey Hussle before they became superstars.

Although Everett’s name might not be as recognizable as the Ava Duvernays and John Singletons of the world, like his contemporaries, his work was tied to community and breaks new ground. Long before Spike Lee wrote “Judas and The Black Messiah” and mainstream culture started paying attention to The Panthers, Everett was there with his video camera, interviewing community members that he grew up hearing stories about. He worked tirelessly behind the scenes for years to get his project out there.

“I would just like to make sure that, you know, the filmmakers who were in the community like Gregory Everett, you know, that they get a little bit of love, and, you know, appreciation and reflection,” Zeinabu Davis, a filmmaker and professor at University of California, San Diego, said during an interview with KCET., “Because, you know there's a number of people who don't get like, the streaming deals with Netflix, or, you know, they don't make multimillion dollar movies like Ryan Coogler. But their work is really important.”

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