ARJ selected for a 2020 LACHS Award and the LA Times Festival of Books; Other News

The Los Angeles City Historical Society (LACHS) has selected me, Alison Rose Jefferson, as one of the individuals and organizations to be recognized in 2020 for exceptional contributions to the greater understanding and awareness of Los Angeles history. Susan Orlean, the Los Angeles Police Museum and I will be presented with awards at the LACHS Gala on Sunday, March 8 at the Dunbar Hotel on Central Avenue. I will receive the Miriam Matthews Ethnic History Award for my book, Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era.

Additionally, I will be the Gala event’s keynote speaker making a presentation on the history of the Dunbar and the Central Avenue district when it was the hub of African American community and cultural life. I will also speak about some of the efforts going on to encourage community building and economic development around this history.

You can make a reservation and learn more about the 2020 LACHS Gala and Awards Ceremony here.

ARJ, an author participant in Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Stories and Ideas

I recently learned I will be included as an author to do a presentation for my new book, Living the California Dream, at the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Stories and Ideas (formerly the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books) which will be held April 18–19 at the University of Southern California campus. The formal announcement of the 2020 Festival line up of writers, poets, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and emerging storytellers from around the work will be announced on March 12.

At this year’s event writer Walter Mosley will be honored with the Festival of Books, 2019 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. He is being recognized for his more than 43 books and other works which focus on the American West. This is a wonderful thing as it helps to bring greater awareness to the world for his work and that of other writers of fiction and nonfiction stories about the African American experience in California and the American West.

Since 1996, the Festival of Books has been bringing the public the best in storytelling and it is the largest event of its kind in the United States. Check the Festival site and the Events page of my website to learn more about my participation at this event.

In more praises for my work from the Los Angeles Times newspaper, writer Drew Tewsbury called out my book launch event at Chevalier’s Book Store in his “Book It, L.A. – for the brainy and the bold” article. Additionally, another publication, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education highlighted my book on its list of new books that may be of interest to their readers.

ARJ featured in new CA Coastal Access Video Series

The California Coastal Commission and Thomas Rigler Productions (TRP) recently debuted a new Coastal Access video series. I am a featured historian discussing my work as an educational tool to illuminate and broaden coastal access issues, enjoyment and environmental stewardship for contemporary audiences. In summer 2019 TRP began to look at the Coastal Act and the coastline through the filter of topics like sea level rising and coastal access for all. Look at these videos here.

Thomas Rigler Productions on behalf of the California Coastal Commission for the past five years has been collecting stories from many communities along the California Coastal Trail between San Diego and the Oregon border. More than 50 short films have been completed and are archived with their public television partner KCET online and on their various TV feeds. Funding for these videos was provided by the California Coastal Commission’s Whale Tail Grants Program.

The historian and the artist explore the intersection of their work in an upcoming public conversation at HRM/NY titled “Radical Recreation”

Artist Derrick Adams and historian Alison Rose Jefferson pause from their visit at Adams’ Brooklyn, New York studio in January 2020 for a photo opportunity. Jefferson and University of Nebraska Press chose one of Adam’s artworks from his series about African American leisure for the book cover of Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era. They will do a program together discussing the intersection of their work at the Hudson River Museum/NY on May 3, 2020. Photograph by Marcus Hedgpeth, graphic designer, Derrick Adams’ Studio, January 2, 2020.

On a New York City visit for the American Historical Association meeting in January 2020 I meet artist Derrick Adams at his Brooklyn studio. His artwork from his “Culture Club” series is the book cover for Living the California Dream… On Sunday, May 3, In conjunction with his exhibit, “Derrick Adams: Buoyant,” at the Hudson River Museum, Derrick and I will do a public program titled “Radical Recreation.” In this probing conversation we will explore the theme of water in modern African American history, from segregation to access, from restricted clubs to public bathhouses, pools, and beaches, up to the present day in our work, how our work intersects and responds to one another. Watch for more details and updates on this and other public events I will participate in soon here.

Articles that are a must read

The New Yorker article, “The Fight to Preserve African-American History” by Casey Cep is relevant to the work I am doing with the Belmar History + Art project (City of Santa Monica), the National Register of Historic Places listing of the Bay Street Beach Historic District and the future of recognizing the African American experience in Santa Monica and other places in California and the United States. Brent Leggs of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, featured in the article, did a blurb for my book, Living the California Dream

Alison Parker’s Opinion piece in the New York Times, “When White Women Wanted a Monument to Black ‘Mammies’,” shows how a 1923 fight continues to demonstration civil rights and feminist activist Mary Church Terrell’s role in the resistance to the building of this racist and sexist monument. In contemporary times, the 1923 fight gives energy to the efforts which continue in dismantling the symbols of white supremacy in our public space.


I will be doing several books talks for Living the California Dream… and other presentation in the coming months (Feb. 26, March 5 and 8, April 14, April 18–19, and May 3) which are listed under the Events page on my website. Dates are still to be announced, so please check back for updates. Buy the book here.


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