LA EVENTS: Leimert Park Village African Art & Music Festival

This is the most anticipated Labor Day event in LA – where people party all day and night!!!

The 5th Annual FREE Leimert Park Village African Art & Music Festival in Historic Leimert Park Village is a FREE 3-day event, scheduled for Labor Day Weekend, Aug. 31, Sept. 1 & Sept. 2, 2013 in the heart of LA’s most dynamic cultural enclave for African and African American culture enjoyed by over 10,000 people from all council districts. Our highly anticipated festival features jazz, blues, reggae, R&B, neo-soul, Afro-beat, spoken word, comedy, traditional African drumming and dance.

In addition to our exceptional music, there are 5 special events that occur during the festival: 1) a Fashion Show, 2) a Natural Hair Show, 3) Sankofa Sunday – a remembrance of those that have transitioned in the past year, 4) a Legacy Awards Ceremony and 5) Leimert Park After Dark – entertainment in and around Leimert Park that occur after 6pm on Sat. & Sun. nights.

Our multi-generational and multi-ethnic audience will enjoy browsing and shopping in our authentic African Marketplace that has over 50 fine art and quality craft vendors selling paintings, sculptures, wood carvings, jewelry, designer clothes, and quality crafts from around the African Diaspora.

We also have age-appropriate activities and distinct areas for children and teens and an international food court with vegetarian, vegan and meat entrees, quick bites, snacks, desserts and drinks.

We invite you to join over 10,000 people who eagerly look forward to this annual event that showcases the best national and local talent.

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Dates: Labor Day Weekend, Aug. 31, Sept. 1, Sept. 2, 2013
Time: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, daily
Location: Vision Theater Special Events Lot, 4318 Degnan Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008

LA EVENTS: Leimert Park Looters and Two New Black Indy Films

As I write this post, I’m watching my local news and seeing my beloved neighborhood in the midst of chaos. It makes no sense, it won’t solve anything, and it’s indicative of why many people in the country perceive Black Americans the way they do. Those that attempted to do something positive with a peaceful protest in honor of Trayvon Martin in Leimert tonight had to be outdone by the masses that chose to act foolish and take advantage of a situation for their own selfish purposes. They are lost – on the streets against the police with everything to lose and not serving a single purpose. LA, I’m disappointed. I’m hoping we all get the opportunity to sleep peaceful tonight.

In other news, Ava Duvernay and AFFRM are still at work with their new film release, Big Words. Check out the trailer below:

It looks pretty good to me. Happy to see Dorian Missick aka DJ Tailwind Turner casted as the lead in this. I love him as a DJ and I’m hopeful that will translate onscreen. This film drops in Los Angeles on Friday, July 19th and will be playing at Downtown Independent. Click here to see showings in other cities.

Finally, Fruitvale Station is out and the reviews are favorable. With emotions already running high I expect this to be an effective tear jerker. Prepare for it by checking the trailer here:

Fruitvale Station is currently playing in select theaters.

Stay tuned in to Black Is as we prepare for our live broadcast on Friday!



LA EVENTS: Juneteenth Heritage Festival in Leimert Park

Come enjoy two days of family fun for all ages that’s free and open to the public at the Juneteenth Heritage Festival in Leimert Park Village on June 15th and 16th from 10am to 6pm each day. Build an app for your digital device; take to the skies in a flight simulator; ride horses with the cowboys of color on Saturday, or rock the old school Soul Train line on Sunday! Dedication of the first Peace Pole in South Central Los Angeles in the 50 years of the Peace Pole Project ( begins 2pm on Sunday. The event begins at 4300 Degnan Blvd down to the corner of Vernon and Crenshaw in Los Angeles. Don’t miss the great arts and crafts vendors, good food and live entertainment featuring Hishaam. For more information, call 323.291-2024 or visit

The Break: Mics Off! The Final Episode of 2012!

Listen in as KC and the family have an unedited, unfiltered conversation for your listening pleasure! Since we are keeping it raw, this is a Members’ Only podcast so enjoy. This one goes out to all the LA Babies!

Stay tuned for 2013 where we will be bringing you SO MUCH MORE! Thank you for your continued support!

LA EVENTS: Taste of Soul

LA Babies, it’s that time of year again! The 7th Annual Taste of Soul event is coming to Crenshaw Boulevard this Saturday from 10 am – 7 pm. As always, the event boasts a line-up of food vendors that will make your mouth water, and performers that will have you dancing in the streets!

Dubbed “Los Angeles’ largest street festival” The Taste of Soul Los Angeles takes place annually in October and features a taste of all things “soulful” including food from local restaurants, live entertainment, displays from local artists, and exhibits from local businesses and organizations.

Founded by Danny Bakewell Sr., the Taste of Soul is presented by the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and benefiting the South L.A. non-profit organizations Mothers in Action and the Brotherhood Crusade, the Taste of Soul Los Angeles is a free family-friendly event hosted in partnership with the City of Los AngelesRadio Free 102.3 KJLH, and 94.7 The WaveThe Taste of Soul takes place in the 8th and 10th council districts represented by Councilmembers Bernard Parks Sr. and Herb Wesson Jr.

The Taste of Soul is still free and takes place on Crenshaw Boulevard between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard and Rodeo Road in Los Angeles and attracts over 250,000 attendees.

Follow the Taste of Soul on Twitter @tasteofsoulla and by using the hashtag #Taste.

“King of the Park” Chess Tournament

Damen Fletcher, director of Train of Thought, is hosting a “King of the Park” Chess Tournament this Saturday, July 21st at 1 pm in the Leimert Park area. This tournament is for adults only, and all interested participants should arrive by 12 pm. Details for the event are as follows:

“KING OF THE PARK” Chess Tournament

Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 1pm (participants arrive by 12 pm please)

McDonalds, 4292 Crenshaw Blvd. (Leimert Park)

Adults Only

See you there!


LA EVENTS: Black Festivals This Weekend!!!!

LA Babies, it’s been a few years since we lost our beloved summertime African Marketplace, but it seems that festival has been resurrected into two festivals this Labor Day Weekend! Join me in supporting the Leimert Park Music and Art Festival taking place September 3 -5, 2011 in Leimert Park Village. Activities to include free live performances, vendor booths, health screenings, dance classes, and food demonstrations among other activities the whole family can enjoy! For those needing a date night, check out “Leimert Park After Dark”, where films and live performances will be playing around Leimert after 6pm. Artists slated to perform include:


Azar Lawrence

Barbara Morrison

Kamasi Washington and the Next Step


Wali Ali

Also taking place this weekend is the Black Music and Art Festival. Located where the original African Marketplace once was, at Rancho Cienega Park is at 5001 Rodeo Road, adjacent to Dorsey High School, Los Angeles, California 90016. This is a three-day mega event to attract over 3,000 people, per day from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds from the Greater Los Angeles area. The festival will include a large music stage hosted by 102.3 KJLH Radio featuring Smooth Jazz, Blues, Reggae, R& B, Old School, Spoken Word and African Drumming and Dance. Artists slated to perform include:

Lalah Hathaway
Karen Briggs/Patrice Rushen Duo
Mark Allen Felton/ Saxophonist
Marguerat Carter/ Blues
Najite/ Fela African Music
Wadada/ Reggae
Renaissance/ Doo Wop
Agape International Choir
A Tribute to Gil Scott Heron
Mark Woods of Lakeside
Donnie BofSlave

Come out and support our community! See you there!

Did Villaraigosa Kill Ridley-Thomas’ Crenshaw-LAX motion?


Following a contentious five-and-a-half hour debate highlighted by impassioned comments by members of the public, the 15-member board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted May 26 to kill a motion that would have placed the portion of the Crenshaw-LAX rail line underground in the Park Mesa Heights area, but left open the possibility for a Leimert Park station.

The meeting’s outcome may be the beginning of a lengthy fight aimed at the MTA board and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

MTA board member and county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced the motion to build a one-mile underground stretch of the Crenshaw-LAX rail line along Crenshaw Boulevard from 48th to 59th streets, arguing that an at-grade line would threaten the safety of nearby students and senior citizens, while potentially displacing businesses, fostering more gridlock on surface streets and dividing the Crenshaw community.

An analysis by Metro staff concluded that the line could be safely built at-grade while navigating seven intersections in the area and also keeping all current traffic lanes on Crenshaw. It was also noted that impacts could be mitigated by eliminating automobile parking for patrons on both sides of Crenshaw Boulevard, reducing left turn movements, removing trees and landscaping and putting up adequate signage. Ridley-Thomas also asked that an additional station be placed at the business and cultural mecca Leimert Park Village, which is predominantly African-American.

The two projects, said Metro staff, would have further caused the $1.7 billion budget slated for the entire project to go over by another $400 million. It is estimated that the current budget is already over by more than $100 million.
It was due to financial constraints and based on Metro staff’s analysis — which contended that redirecting money to the two initiatives would delay other projects or potentially eliminate them all together, and hamper the county’s infrastructure because maintenance and renovations on crumbling lines and freeways would not be tended to — that Ridley-Thomas was unable to accrue the seven votes necessary for the Park Mesa Heights undergrounding to pass, despite demonstrating that up to $2 billion in funds from lower-priority maintenance and system enhancement projects could have been redirected to that portion of the line without affecting any new transit or highway projects. There were other potential funding sources, such as Expo Measure R funds for the “substitute project,” Measure R Green Line to LAX funds, Arbor Vitae interchange project funds and surplus property sales.

Ultimately, the board voted to include the Leimert Park/Vernon Station in the plan, but only if bidders could build the station within the already allotted $1.7 billion budget for the project. The project will go out for construction bids in 2012.

Villaraigosa, also an MTA board member, along with his three appointed board members, could have easily saved both initiatives, said Damien Goodmon, executive director of United Community Associations Inc.
Villaraigosa acknowledged that Ridley-Thomas and residents of South Los Angeles had advocated for Measure R prior to it being put before voters in 2008, and they were key drivers in making sure that it passed.
“Were it not Mark Ridley-Thomas and the [state] Senate and his leadership, we would not have been able to put Measure R on the ballot in the first place,” he said, noting that a number of the members of the Metro board rejected it. “We wouldn’t even be having this discussion if there was no Measure R. That is not something to dismiss lightly. … All of this was just a pipe dream. Time and time again, Mr. Ridley-Thomas is on the mark when he says when you look at the demographics of where the vote comes from — not just on Measure R, but virtually every school bond, library bond and park bond — it comes from the community that is here today. We wouldn’t have Measure R if it were not for that community.”

In the end, however, Villaraigosa rejected the idea of undergrounding the line in Park Mesa Heights and supported the possibility of adding a train station in Leimert Park in the plans, stating that he is confident that it will come to fruition based on bids for other projects, which have been coming in at 30 percent under expected costs.

“The mayor stabbed us in the back. He doomed the Park Mesa Heights merchants. He basically wrote them a death certificate, and doomed the Crenshaw corridor community to second-class status,” Goodmon said. “I was a bit insulted with the motion that did pass regarding the Leimert Park Village station; it was quite ridiculous. The money clearly was there. The votes — [Supervisors Ridley-Thomas, Michael Antonovich and Gloria Molina] — clearly were there. The mayor just simply did not care to represent our community, which I guess isn’t anything new.

“The mayor controls four votes,” Goodmon added, referring to Villaraigosa and his appointed members Mel Wilson, Richard Katz and Jose Huizar. “So, basically, if we had the mayor of Los Angeles represent South Los Angeles and the people who elected him we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, we would be throwing a big party and planning for the future of Crenshaw Boulevard.”

Goodmon said that he has seen the catastrophes that have occurred from other at-grade lines in South Los Angeles, Watts and Willowbrook, where a number of people have been injured or killed while passing, and said that communities have been decimated with the construction of the Santa Monica (10), the Harbor (110), the Glenn Anderson (105) and the Santa Ana (5) freeways, which have cut through the communities, displaced residents and created walls and have killed businesses left and right.

“There is a history of poor transportation impacts on communities of color in this region,” Goodmon added. “We went in positive, believing that if the mayor saw the community, the activist community, the political community and the residential community all united that he would do the right thing. The mayor did the wrong thing and he should pay for it … [Villaraigosa] was the only person to whom we elected who was not for us. It’s a betrayal. It’s a slap in the face to the memory of [former mayor] Tom Bradley and other African-American leaders who all got behind this guy and got him into office and convinced him to run when Jimmy Hahn was up for re-election.”
The Crenshaw corridor, Goodmon said, has already been impacted by years of street level construction and permanent traffic. The undergrounding of Park Mesa Heights would have been the “first time, probably in transportation decisions ever in Los Angeles County, an opportunity to reap the benefits of a regional transportation system.”

At the May 26 board meeting, Molina used her own district as an example as to how at-grade lines have devastated her First Supervisorial District. “The east side is grateful to be a part of the transit system at this point in time,” she said. “But in those areas where it goes above ground, the traffic is unbearable [and] the businesses are suffering. … I have been at the mercy of inconsistency at the hands of this board on a regular basis as a community on the east side. It’s not just this project alone. This is not fair.”

According to Goodmon, the decision made by the board has nothing to do with political resources or monetary resources; rather, he said, this was an issue about political will and environmental racism.
“They have been short-changing us, and the mayor has been short-changing our projects for years,” he said. “The long-term vision of this line is to not end at Exposition but go all the way to Hollywood, north of the 10 freeway. Every single inch of this line that is north of the 10 freeway is supposed to be underground. There is not supposed to be one street-level crossing. If you don’t think that creating a line where every intersection north of the 10 freeway is underground, but you have street level sections in the Crenshaw community, that will ruin Crenshaw businesses and jeopardize Crenshaw lives — especially students of View Park Prep.” Dividing Crenshaw communities is wrong, he said, if that’s not environmental racism then “I don’t know what is,” he said.
At present, over 55 percent of the 8.5 mile alignment is set to be grade separated, with 36 percent in a below-grade tunnel and 19 percent above-grade. The track through Hyde Park and Slauson to West Boulevard has been changed from above-grade to below-grade.

Blair Taylor, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, said the board’s decision was “a tremendous error … one that should not be taken lightly by our community. It will have staggering ramifications. This rail system represents the single largest economic development project in the history of the Crenshaw area. … For our community to not be afforded the same treatment as other communities is, frankly, unacceptable. None of us should be happy with this decision. It will significantly impact our local businesses on Crenshaw. It will negatively effect the safety our our children and senior citizens. And it will adversely impact the overall economic viability of the Park Mesa Heights neighborhood.”

Goodmon said his organization and various other stakeholders in the community such as the Los Angeles Urban League, the Leimert Park Village Merchants Association and the West Angeles Community Development Corporation are not going away, and that they will continue to apply pressure to the board and the mayor.
Ridley-Thomas, who held a press conference last week with numerous stakeholders, agreed that the fight is not over.

“We are not going to give up on a station at Leimert Park Village,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We are going to advocate for Park Mesa Heights. We’re going to keep pushing — it ain’t over til it’s over.”

According to Ridley-Thomas, the stipulations that come with possibly having a train station in Leimert Park Village — that being that the station will be erected only if it can be built within the existing $1.7 billion budget allocated for the Crenshaw-LAX rail line — “leaves its fate up in the air.”

If contract bids for the light rail line project come in at lower-than-expected numbers, then savings will be used to fund the stop, which would be located at Vernon Street and Crenshaw Boulevard. Despite this, Ridley-Thomas said that he is optimistic, and that the board’s vote is “a victory with a small ‘v.’”

Caption: This Metropolitan Transportation Authority map shows the planned Crenshaw-LAX rail line’s path through South Los Angeles.

via The Los Angeles Wave

LA EVENTS: Leimert Park Art Walk

The Leimert Park Art Walk will take place today from 2pm -8pm in Leimert Park Village. This event is free and will include art exhibits, live performances by local artists, a drum circle, and a fashion show. This event is free and open to all ages. See you there!

Target Coming to Leimert

In addition to the changes Leimert Park residents will soon see in our local mall, prepare to see the corner of Crenshaw and Rodeo Boulevards undergo a massive transformation. According to Curbed LA, local developer Charles Company is proposing a Target-anchored shopping mall for that corner, which will include a Ralphs, Marshalls, and other businesses.

For locals that may not know, the current defunct Ralphs will be closing this November to start the process. I’m guessing the dead Rite-Aid will follow suit, since neither stores get much action with a newer Albertsons down the street and both Walgreen’s and CVS within walking distance.