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November 2017 Lobbyist Report: Leimert Park, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, & Barbara Morrison
Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017 @ 12:07 AM

If you missed the last Centennial Club Legislative Luncheon on October 6th, you missed a great event! We hosted the luncheon in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles. Have you been there? Not just driven through the area, but actually walked in the Leimert Park Village? It is a very special place that should not be missed.


Named for its developer, Walter H. Leimert, the subdivision began in 1928. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm, sons of the famous Fredrick Olmsted, designer of Central Park in New York City. This was one of the first comprehensively planned communities in Southern California. A vibrant commercial district, surrounded by high quality apartments, surrounded by well-designed homes, aimed at middle and upper-income families. A self-sufficient community within driving/streetcar distance to downtown.

When the community was first founded, it was a racially restricted community. That held until 1948, when the US Supreme Court found that such restrictions were unconstitutional. After WWII, an influx of Japanese homeowners created a more diverse community. Then, the riots of 1965 caused some residents to move to other areas, and the community has struggled to maintain since then. Our members have discovered Leimert Park for the availability of attractive, original homes on tree-lined streets, that are more affordable then the Westside area.

However, an aggressive street beautification program, and the African-American arts community have made great strides to making Leimert Park a destination again. The Vision Theater, from 1932, is the focal point for the village. Now owned by the City of Los Angeles, it is undergoing thoughtful renovation and will serve as a centerpiece for the arts community. Additionally, METRO will complete the Crenshaw Line next year that will allow access by train from all parts of the Los Angeles region.

That brings us to Barbara Morrison and her efforts to revive Leimert Park. An Angeleno since 1973, she has brought her singing talent to her own club in Leimert Park, and last year, began the gargantuan effort to create the “California Jazz & Blues Museum” in the village.

That’s where we held the Legislative Luncheon, with our speaker, Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. BHGLAAR LCRC Trustees supported Marqueece in his election to replace Bernard Parks. His goal is to deal with homelessness, and creating affordable housing. His leadership will give the area the needed personal interest that it takes inside City Hall to get anything done. We have been working with Marqueece to help identify areas of the 8th Council District where the first-time home buyers could utilize the City’s assistance programs.

The real treat at the Legislative Luncheon was Barbara Morrision herself. My husband and I took the opportunity to present the Jazz & Blues Museum a donation of a commendation to R & B singer Sam Cooke in 1957 from the juke box owners trade association, and another commendation to L.C. Cooke in 1958 from the musicians and artists trade association.These had been hanging on our wall since 1981 when I acquired them from football star/actor Fred “The Hammer” Williamson”.

Our reward for the entire Centennial Club, was a live performance by Barbara Morrison of two Sam Cooke songs: “What a Wonderful World” and “Change is Gonna’ Come”.

These little gems are what make Los Angeles such a treasure trove. Though I can’t promise a live concert at each Legislative Luncheon, there’s always plenty of live information.

To read more from our November edition of Shaping LA, click the following link: http://www.foleypub.com/epapers/bhglaarnov17/offline/download.pdf

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