Time has flown by in 2023 with the work to document and share hidden, overlooked and forgotten stories of African Americans and other marginalized people. I join other like-minded folks to illuminate in new public programs these stories of a broader view of those who have contributed to making California and American histories to inspire and empower folks to make our lives better today and in the future.
Join me in exploring the past and gaining inspiration to shape the present and future from all these activities, along with the books and articles I highlight here. Check my website for more of these musings. Also, you are invited to share this news post with your colleagues, friends and family.
Celebration of a New Brief SoCal Aeronautics History with Inclusion of More Diverse Participants for Long Beach Airport’s 100th Anniversary at Upcoming Events
Among my projects this year, I, Alison Rose Jefferson, have been working with Philip S. Hart to research and write an essay on the histories, significance and importance of Long Beach and Southern California aviation and aeronautics activities from the 1900s to 1980s with the Historical Society of Long Beach (HSLB). Included in this narrative are the histories of women and people of color who participated and contributed to making Southern California environs a global center of aviation and aerospace over the last century. The soon-to-be-released essay (which includes many historical photographs) is titled “Long Beach Airport and Southern California: A Brief New Aviation and Aeronautics History (1900s – 1980s).” This project was commissioned by the Long Beach Airport (LGB, airport code) as part of its 100th anniversary celebration.
At the free Festival of Flight, which this year celebrates the LGB’s 100th anniversary on Saturday, October 21, visit Phil Hart and I at the HSLB booth where we will share information about our new essay project, including a project brochure handout which you can download here. Also SAVE THE DATE for a presentation that Hart and I will do on this essay project and an LGB centennial reception on Thursday, December 7 at 6:00 PM, at the Long Beach Billie Jean King Main Library.
WHA Meets in LA; African American Experience in American West History is on the Program
Grace Williams, Albert Williams, Mary Mingleton and Willie Williams enjoying the day at the Bay Street Beach, Santa Monica, CA, 1926. Los Angeles Public Library Photography Collection.
If you are attending the 2023 Western History Association (WHA) Conference, October 25-28 in Los Angeles, CA at the Bonaventure Hotel, please join me on “The African American Histories by the Sea in the City of Santa Monica Tour” I will lead on Thursday, October 26 at 1:00 PM. At this year’s conference, there are several panels that include the histories of the Black West which show the number of historians who are now working on documenting those who have been overlooked in the narrative of American histories and identity.
“Black California Dreamin’…” Exhibition at CAAM LA (August 4, 1923 – March 31, 2024)
The special preview opening Friday evening, August 4, 2023 event was a great success for the “Black California Dreamin’: Claiming Space in America’s Leisure Frontier” (“BCD”) exhibition curated by me, Alison Rose Jefferson, for the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles. KCRW radio deejays provided the musical backdrop for the five exhibitions that opened at CAAM that night. The “BCD” exhibition which runs through March 31, 2023, illuminates African Americans in Southern California fighting for their rights to nature, recreation, and sites of relaxation and joy during the Jim Crow era and for acknowledgment in the American identity. This exhibition visually illuminates my book, Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era, and some of the public/applied history activities which have used this history. See photographs of this exhibition from the August 4 event, left (David Mesfin) and below (Vana Theiro and others) and review the global media coverage the exhibition has garnered below.
Black folks’ stories matter! Here are inspiring activities, articles, and books to check out about omitted or once-forgotten stories of the African American experience in the national narrative which have recently been inserted into public memory. Some of these are items on why history matters for our reevaluation and resistance to legacies of White Supremacy.
- Check out the 2023 [ ]AZZ-IS VENICE NOT-JAZZ FEST, Wednesday, November 1 to Saturday, November 4 to be held at indoor and outdoor venues in the Venice Beach community of Los Angeles, California. Presented by Nonsemble Creative Collective, this is the second year of this independent, unique, and alternative Jazz Fest. KCRW is among the event sponsors. Find out more information about the organizers, sponsors, the musician lineup, and purchasing tickets for the satellite shows (Wednesday-Friday) leading up to the signature free show (Saturday) here.
Tap here to view the Spectrum News 1 article on Willis O. Tyler Square, September 25, 2023.
- The downtown Los Angeles intersection of Second and Spring Streets was dedicated as Willis O. Tyler Square, to honor a lawyer whose career included business law and working over several decades on legal cases to fight racist restrictive real estate covenants barring people of color from owning property and living in many neighborhoods in the City of Angels and around the nation. Willis O. Tyler (1880-1949) also represented the Bruces and others in their unsuccessful legal changes against Manhattan Beach after the city seized their property in 1924 through eminent domain under the false pretense purportedly for the development of a park. One of the first African Americans to graduate from Harvard University Law School and one of the first to become a lawyer licensed in California, Tyler worked with NAACP and legal eagles Loren Miller and Thurgood Marshall on some civil rights cases. Tyler was active in Los Angeles’ social and cultural life with his wife Lillian de Johnette Tyler, who was a teacher in Los Angeles schools. Some of Tyler’s relatives continue to reside in Los Angeles in 2023.
- American WhiteLash: A Changing Nation and the Cost of Progress (Mariner Books, 2023) by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wesley Lowery. “An essential chronicle of America’s recent past told with a historian’s sense of scope and a reporter’s eye for detail. Already the most compelling journalist covering the Black Lives Matter movement and its catalysts, here Lowery astutely turns his focus to the forces of reaction that both preceded the election of Barack Obama and found new strength in its aftermath.” — Adam Serwer, author of The Cruelty is the Point
- Eurowhiteness: Culture, Empire and Race in the European Project (Hurst Publishers, 2023) by Hans Kundnani. “Hans Kundnani has been on an intellectual journey over several years, close to the heart of the European mythmaking machine… What has emerged from this slow disenchantment is a clear, elegantly written polemic. Some people won’t like it, which is probably why they should read it… Kundnani’s book is more than an insightful one, it is a necessary one.” — Financial Times
- “Review: Ossie Davis’ Purlie Victorious,’ back on Broadway, hasn’t lost a farcical step” by Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 6, 2023. “‘Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch’, Ossie Davis’ 1961 satiric farce that was the basis for the 1963 film ‘Gone Are the Days!’ and the 1970 musical ‘Purlie’, is receiving a vibrant revival on Broadway at the Music Box.” Leslie Odom (of the “Hamilton” musical) leads the cast. When you are in New York City, make time to see this play.
You are invited to share this newsblast with your colleagues, friends and family.