ARJ News – Fight the Power!

Representative John Lewis and Mayor Muriel Bowser standing on the BLM mural in downtown Washington DC. Photographs courtesy of Twitter/Mayor Bowser.

Freedom, Liberation, and Justice Now

On the beach, on the street and in the boutique window, social justice undertakings around the nation are actively using history to engage the public in critical dialogue about social and political issues continuing to face society. These actions of empowerment are shaping broader conversations and stirring the public to take steps to build a more just and equitable society.

I am glad the civil rights activist, Congressman John Lewis (1940–2020) of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia, lived long enough to make the contribution he did for American society betterment. I am glad he had a chance to see the new iteration of part of his legacy in the social justice efforts of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

A new street sign sits above an intersection outside St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., where President Trump arranged a photo-op this week. Mayor Muriel Bowser says, “The section of 16th [Street] in front of the White House is now officially ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza.’ “Photographs courtesy of Twitter/Mayor Bowser and Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP.

The symbolism of the changes in American society in his lifetime are articulated in the BLM street mural where Lewis is pictured above with Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC, and the newly named plaza in front of the White House. At the same time these public displays are a reminder there are still changes that must occur to dismantle white supremacy, police brutality, and anti-black racism for a better society, nationally and globally.

I am inspired every time I look at or think about the Black Lives Matter mural painted on 16th Street NW and the new street sign officially designating Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House. Simultaneously I hear in my head, Public Enemy’s song title, chorus, and melody of “Fight the Power,  from the soundtrack of the 1989 “Do the Right Thing” film by Spike Lee about the complexities of racial relations and tension. I am inspired by these works and public processes.

In my activism expression as a historian, in my work, these activities help me to speak truth to power as I expose historical omissions to recover erased and suppressed stories that I and others are using in empowering people for the betterment of society.

ARJ’s Work Wins Awards

Michael Blum of Sea of Clouds and I were honored with the 2020 Cultural Landscape Award by the Santa Monica Conservancy for our accomplishment of getting the Bay Street Beach Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is the first historic district in Santa Monica to receive this national honor.

I was also recognized as a 2020 Super Healer by Heal the Bay for my contribution to helping the organization grow its perspective about its approach to nature conservation stewardship and reaching broader audiences with such events like Nick Gabaldón Day.

Nick Gabaldón Day 2020 Celebration Goes to a Virtual Event  

The annual beach day which provides activities for underserved communities was reimagined as a virtual event this year due to the COVID 19 health crisis and social distancing public health requirements.
Filmmaker Rhasaan Nichols and I did a Nick Gabaldón Day: Knowledge Drops panel (scroll down this webpage to our panel and resources) with Inés Ware of Heal the Bay. We talked about his new film, “Walking on Water: A Brief History of Black Surfers” and my work about African American beach culture history and its implication for our lives today. At these links, watch our June 4th panel, Nichols’ award-winning film, and learn about the other Nick Gabaldón 2020 virtual events.

Save the Date: Next year Nick Gabaldón Day will be back on Saturday, June 5, 2021.

Event News

I will be doing several book talks and other presentations in the coming months (August 6/Santa Monica History Museum, August 20/Los Angeles Public Library, September 8/Camp Hollywood, and September 10/Santa Barbara Mission) which are confirmed and listed on the Events page of my website. Also, my presentation for the Los Angeles Times Review of Books has been rescheduled to October 3 to 4, 2020. Check my website Events page for more details on these events mentioned here and new ones being added that you and yours could attend.

Please contact me to begin the invitation process to schedule public presentations on American history and the African American experience which includes book talks.

Thursday, August 20, 2020, at 4.00 PM. Los Angeles Public Library Virtual Event.

Speaker in “LA Made” Cultural Series Virtual Interview Event, Los Angeles Public Library Series

I will be interviewed about my new book, Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Site during the Jim Crow Era, and work by Lisa Teasley, Sr. Editor at the Los Angeles Reviews of Books on Thursday, August 20, 2020, as part of the “LA Made” cultural series featuring public intellectuals, artists and entertainers produced by the Los Angeles Public Library. Learn more about attending this upcoming virtual program here.

Photograph courtesy of Leroy Hamilton, December 7, 2019.


ARJ Important News about Living the California Dream….

In addition to earning the 2020 Miriam Matthews Ethnic History Award from the Los Angeles City Historical Society for exceptional contributions to the greater understanding and awareness of Los Angeles history in March, my book, Living the California Dream…, was also profiled recently in the New York Times (June) and Los Angeles Magazine (May). (June), and earlier in the year the Los Angeles Times, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education,  and CBS KCAL LA TV News did features on my book or I was featured as an expert contributor in these media outlets’ stories.

View these articles on the book and other media stories I have been quoted in here. Buy the book here.


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