South Central Is Home
Race and the Power of Community Investment in Los Angeles
Abigail Rosas


Contents and Abstracts
Introduction: Uncovering Black and Latina/o Relations
chapter abstract

The Introduction explains the historical configuration of South Central Los Angeles's demographic change from a predominantly African American community to a multiracial African American and Latina/o immigrant community. It posits that daily acts of community racialization and activism defined resident belonging and investment in this racially diverse community. The chapter examines how it is important to enrich existing scholarship by reconceptualizing South Central as a racialized space and community forged and sustained by African Americans and Latina/os' sharing South Central as their home. As neighbors, entrepreneurs, homeowners, political advocates and representatives, teachers, parents, and students, South Central residents refused to be overwhelmed by U.S. national discourses and policies on crime, poverty, education, immigration, and public health and to live isolated from each other or to abandon or forfeit thriving together and as members of this community.

1 Placemaking in Our Community: Race Enterprise and the War on Poverty
chapter abstract

This chapter introduces African American migration from the U.S. South to Los Angeles as foundational to South Central being understood nationally as an overwhelmingly African American community in the post–World War II period. An in-depth consideration of the emergence and influence of African American entrepreneurship in South Central's business sector reveals the power behind African American migrants spearheading the establishment of Broadway Federal Bank, a minority-owned bank in South Central. By the 1960s, however, the economic realities of South Central and Watts were increasingly defined as working class, working poor, and poor. The introduction of War on Poverty funding and programs would play a role in the relationships fostered between African American and Mexican American activists and advocates.

2 "Let's Get Them Off to a Headstart!" Community Investment in Head Start
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This chapter centers on African American and Latina/o South Central residents' struggles to establish, lead, teach, and benefit from Head Start programs throughout South Central. This consideration of the War on Poverty pre-school education program's vision, design, and implementation elucidates how this program brought African American and Latina/o South Central residents together to forge an approach to "school readiness" that lived up to their expectations for the future of their children, families, and community.

3 "The Wave of the Future": The Emergence of Community Health Clinics
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This chapter historicizes late mid-twentieth-century South Central African American and Latina/o residents' community investment in the building of a hospital and community and health centers "where the poorest and most humble can be treated with respect and feel they belong." It argues that in the wake of the 1965 uprisings, South Central residents, U.S. political officials, and physicians waged an interracial campaign for this community to have access to a hospital and community health clinics that would meet the diversity of South Central residents' health care needs. The chapter showcases African American and Latina/o residents' unwavering resolve to act together and in support of community wellness as a formative step to asserting their community's humanity, investment, and power.

4 Becoming "Bonafide" Residents: Developing Relational Community Formation
chapter abstract

This chapter advances our understanding of the impact of U.S. immigration policy on the resolve of Latina/o immigrant South Central residents to invest themselves in forging a sense of community and home alongside and with their African American neighbors. The chapter elucidates the shared racialization of Latina/o immigrant and African American South Central residents' experience. The emotive range of feelings framing this demographic change speaks to this community's relational interracial formation, humanity, and livelihood.

5 Teaching Together: Interracial Community Organizing
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This chapter considers the enduring reach of Head Start centers in South Central throughout the 1980s. In the midst of neighborhood demographic change, Head Start classrooms implemented a multiracial and multicultural approach to early childhood education and community activism that resonated with South Central African American and Latina residents. By focusing on the goals of the educational curriculum framing Head Start, as well as this program's teachers' receptiveness to training African American and Latina immigrant parents and residents to participate in the teaching of the program's curriculum, the chapter provides an analysis of the lasting legacies of Head Start's benefits. The collaborative efforts of these women points to the importance of locating and learning from the power of investing in the educational attainment of South Central as a community of dedicated and promising children and women.

6 Celebrating Diversity: Selective Inclusion in a Multiracial City
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This chapter reveals narratives of selectively acknowledging the ways demographic change and immigrant diversity influence community relations, opportunities, and life in South Central Los Angeles. The interracial tension between African American, Korean immigrant, and Latina/o immigrant South Central entrepreneurs and residents was the result of heavy policing and profiling in the community, escalation of the drug epidemic, anxiety over immigrant enforcement, and the national and local government economic disinvestment. The chapter examines these lived 1980s realities to argue that the indignities of underemployment, police brutality, immigrant enforcement, a drug epidemic, diminished educational opportunities, and poverty culminated in the 1992 uprising. It concludes with the community's commitment to not becoming undone by such instability, to magnify their resilience.

7 Banking in South Central: The Limitations of Race Enterprises
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This chapter returns to Broadway Federal Bank in the wake of the 1992 uprisings to investigate this race enterprise's longevity and commitment to the community. The race-based politics that framed this establishment's management had to embrace the realization that to thrive and genuinely serve the South Central community it had to cater to an African American and increasingly Latina/o immigrant clientele. The economic and social realities framing South Central's community life leading up to and after the 1992 Los Angeles Uprisings has compelled some of South Central's most invested community entrepreneurs and residents to face demographic and social change with an outlook that cannot underestimate the multiracial configuration and needs of this community.

chapter abstract

This final chapter alerts readers to the urgency of learning from South Central's history of relational community formation and solidarity. By identifying and discussing contemporary local South Central branding efforts, informal economies, and electoral campaigns shaping this community's current neighborhood interactions and investments, the chapter elaborates on the importance of building on the investments, relationships, and ties that have sustained community building, placemaking, and friendships in South Central. The onset of gentrification and the rise in underemployment, homelessness, border enforcement, white supremacy movements, and police brutality are highlighted as realities that render an inclusive approach toward race and community as important to maintaining a sense of home.