Sunday, June 29, 2014

'Hoods #40-41—the Hub of LA's African American Culture in Leimert Park/Arlington Park

I first heard of Leimert Park when talking with a young woman who several years ago moved to LA, living in Manhattan Beach and a couple other beach cities until finally she asked a friend, "Where are all the black people?" That's when she found out about Leimert Park, the neighborhood I visited today (and where she now lives), which is a middle-class 'hood considered the hub of African-American culture in LA.... also known as "the Black Greenwich Village."

(BTW, I'm rolling Arlington Park into this because it's just a tiny, tiny strip on the east of Leimert Park, which itself is only 1.9 square miles total. I have no idea why the map I'm working from separates them into two 'hoods because nobody else - including Google - seems to.)

I went for the Festival of Ancestors and African Mask Parade along with my friend Jenifer. It was every bit as small town, community-oriented, hokey as I'd hoped: families, art in the park, street artists, drumming, singing, etc.  

Being there, I learned Sundays are a big day in Leimert Park—even though many of the restaurants are closed, apparently there's jazz and food in the park and later in the bars; things were just getting hopping as we were leaving at 5:00.

I'd planned to eat lunch at a local restaurant, but before we found one that was open, we found this guy in the park making amazing Jamaican grilled salmon, veggies and rice—we must've looked pretty happy eating it because more than one person came up to ask where we got our food.

A highlight: a city lot with parking all day for $2.50... for all day!!!  You don't get bargain parking like that too many other places in LA. Oh, and having grown up in the Detroit area where cruising Woodward Avenue was the happening thing, I was amused by these signs we saw around the neighborhood:

Also, KCET recently aired an interesting video on the gentrification of Leimert Park.

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