Black History Moment

What is the furthest you've ever walked? You missed the last bus or train so you had to walk two miles? Twelve? Imagine walking from Mississippi to California. Imagine doing so behind three hundred wagons, choking on dust all the way. Oh yes, and you're a slave.

This is the story of Biddy Mason, a woman who transformed her life from slave to landowner. Along the way, she fed the less fortunate and established the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles in her living room.

In the Bunker Hill area of downtown Los Angeles, there is a Biddy Mason Monument. It is nestled behind several stores and fast food restaurants, so you could easily miss it if you didn't know it was there. Much like the history of Blacks in Los Angeles, you have to desire to find it.

Saturday, I spent the day on a yellow school bus, not the short one, on the Black Heritage Tour sponsored by the Consolidated Realty Board of Los Angeles and Our Authors Study Club. Los Angeles is my birth place. I am one of the few, the proud, Los Angeles natives. So when given the opportunity to study my beloved city, I made the time for her, braving both bus fumes and car sickness.

It was a beautiful, clear day; so clear that you could see the Hollywood sign from Crenshaw Blvd. As I stepped off the bus at Olvera Street, I felt a flood of relief and inspiration. Okay, getting fresh air helped relieve the nauseau I experienced due to car sickness on the bus. However hearing about the Pobladores, the original forty four people sent from Mexico by Spain,provided inspiration. As I munched on an apple, which I carried in "the big purse", I learned about the twenty six Pobladores of African descent who helped establish Los Angeles as a pueblo. The Pobladores were a great example of what can be accomplished when African Americans and Latinos work together. In addition, the accompanying ambience created by a Peruvian flute player and the adjacent Museum of Chinese American History reminded me of the beautiful coexistence of cultures in my home town.

Back on the bus, I dug into "the big purse" again for a half turkey snadwich and carrots---yeah Trader Joe's. My cousin, who told me about the tour, broke out his jumbo bag of trail mix. As we headed toward historic Central Ave., our tour guide pointed out several buildings and homes designed by African American architect, Paul R. Williams. Williams was another amazing part of our history as he could not even enter many of the buildings he designed due to segregation.

On Central Avenue we passed the Dunbar Hotel where Black celebrities roamed in the thirties and forties. We then passed two landmarks that were not only part of Black history, but part of my personal history as well.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company, famous for its luxury liner shaped architectural style, was significant for me because it is where my grandfather worked as a janitor many, many years ago. While the local junior high was historically significant because it was named after Black scientist Dr. George Washington Carver, it was personally significant to me because it is where my mother attended school.

I imagined my mother as a young teenager learning about the man her school was named after. I wondered what she thought when she learned how George Washington Carver, the former slave who became a noted scientist, woke up every day at 4am, went out into the woods and received his marching orders from God.

According to Glenn Clark, author of The Man Who Talks With Flowers, the way in which Dr. Carver got flowers, peanuts, and the sweet potato to reveal their secrets to him was by loving them profoundly. I can't help but wonder if my love for the City of Los Angeles will encourage it to reveal more of its historical secrets to me.


nice post this is what i did for black history month, let me know what u think The father of Jim Crow
and do add me to your blog roll if u like what u read

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