Hello 2021 and ARJ News!



Joy and Fulfillment


Inspirational Dreams and Infinite Possibilities  

Good Health



Wishing you  and yours these things in 2021 and beyond.


Love the Past. Embrace the Future. Share the Joy.

As we look back at 2020, we see challenges and opportunities that were unimageable when the new decade began. Crazy for all of us, this complex and enlightening last year included the coronavirus pandemic with its multiple significant health, political, economic, and social justice ramifications for humanity, the Black Lives Matter Movement’s reinvigoration of the demand for racial equality and Black dignity and citizenship, and the bizarre, dystopian United States presidential election drama.

Nonetheless I am grateful I was one the fortunate folks who stayed healthy, busy and had a productive year. I participated in many meaningful efforts to share and reinsert the erased and overlooked stories about African American action and socio-economic investment in the California dream during the Jim Crow era in many public talks. I also completed a few and started new projects which reconstruct and reclaim more inclusive narratives of Black California life in public space displays and historical memory that contribute to the global dialog to inform and amplify a more accurate and broader understanding of our shared history and identity in our global, national, regional, and local citizenship.


Angels Walk LA’s Central Avenue Heritage Trail Finally Debuts

After a long construction review delay, the Angels Walk LA Central Avenue heritage trail is finally being installed and the guidebooks will be available in early 2021. Journalist Martha Groves and I did the research and wrote the text for the fifteen street stanchions and guidebook which feature stories about people, places, and events of the old Central Avenue neighborhood when it was the hub of African American life from 1900 to the 1950s.

Learn more about the new heritage trail walk from the LACityview/Channel 35, LA Currents TV show which first aired on December 14, 2020, as part of a musical celebration honoring 25 years of the Central Avenue Jazz Festival and at the Angels Walk LA website.

Also, learn about a talk I will do on the early twentieth-century popular music and dance scene in Los Angeles, and its relationship to the Central Avenue heritage trail sites presented by the Los Angeles City Historical Society on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 here.

Belmar History + Art (BH+A), a Santa Monica Civic Commemorative Justice Project Continues Rolling Out 2020–2021

In a year’s time, the BH+A project’s historian, I, Alison Rose Jefferson and artist April Banks with other contributors and Santa Monica City Government staff have produced a resonate multifaceted education, inspirational and remembrance civic commemorative justice project. The programming elucidates a more complex American story about historical Black life in the South Santa Monica Beach neighborhoods before the Civic Center Campus expansion and Interstate 10 Freeway developments in the 1950s–60s. From December 2020 to the early part of 2021 BH+A public permanent and ongoing educational programming begins rolling out.

This programming includes a site exhibition installation of history interpretative panels and a large sculpture at the perimeter of the new Historic Belmar Park at Fourth Street and Pico Boulevard, a newly researched context essay, grade school curriculum, and a website, among other educational activities which illuminate and make visible the erased historical African American experience of families, events and places in Santa Monica before the 1960s during the Jim Crow era.

As of late December, visitors have been able to tour the new park to view the history interpretation panels. The sculpture will be installed in late February 2021. A virtual Black History Month discussion about BH+A will be held on Tuesday, February 16. Learn more about attending the event here. Watch for announcements about additional upcoming BH+A programming.

Learn more about BH+A here


ARJ to be a Scholar in Residence at ISLA/Oxy College and an Advisory Council Member for TPL’s New Black History and Culture Program in 2021


I am excited to announce I will be the Scholar in Residence with the Institute for the Study of Los Angeles (ISLA) at Occidental College (Oxy) for spring 2021. The ISLA program is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Please watch for invites to Oxy virtual public programming I will do that will be announced over the next few months.

I am also happy to share I am a member of the Advisory Council for The Trust for Public Land’s Black History and Culture Program. This new program will work across the country to tell the complete American story by re-centering African American voices in the narrative at sites and public spaces in several communities. Please watch for upcoming announcements about this exciting new program in the early months of 2021.


Living the California Dream…Book Continues to Garner Praise and Media Attention


In recent months my book, Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era (University of Nebraska Press, 2020) was profiled, reviewed, or mentioned in articles where I was quoted at LAIST.com (December), Los Angeles Review of Books (December 2020), KCET.org (October) and in the Los Angeles Times newspaper (August), along with being featured on Eyewitness News, ABC 7 TV (November).

I am also honored that my book made Historian Patty Limerick’s 10 Recent Publications in Western American History Written by the Talented Young to read (October)! The director of the Center for the American West based at the University of Colorado, Boulder and former MacArthur Fellow, Limerick’s work has been groundbreaking in broadening the way history is written and taught to be more inclusive of people of color, women, and other marginalized groups.  

Review these media pieces and find others about my work here.

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


Listen and take inspiration from Peter CottonTale’s uplifting new song, “Together” which captures the happenings of 2020 with a message of hope that we all need! Featured vocals are by Chance the Rapper, Cynthia Erivo, Children’s Choir, and Matt Jones Re-Collective Orchestra.


Derrick Adams and his products inspired by his artwork in a window display at the Vilebrequin boutique at Wilshire Boulevard between Beverly and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, January 1, 2021. Courtesy of Alison Rose Jefferson.

Enjoy this photograph of artist Derrick Adams bringing people a bit of joy in a window display of him in the shorts and sitting on a unicorn pool floater he created based on his artwork for Vilebrequin clothing. He also made a tote bag for the company. Adams allowed me to use one of his artworks for the book cover of Living the California Dream… In looking at this photograph we can all think about and plan what vacations we want to go on after our pandemic quarantine is over.

Yes, there are other socio-economic and cultural considerations we could discuss about this photograph at another time. This window display photograph was made at the Vilebrequin boutique at Wilshire Boulevard between Beverly and Rodeo Drives in Beverly Hills, California.

Also take a look at the “Radical Recreation” conversation presented by the Hudson River Museum in a virtual program on June 14, 2020, where Adams and I talk about the intersections of our work in giving voice to the African American experience of civil rights and leisure as an open inclusive reality for all in the making of history and its consequences for our lives today.

You are invited to share this newsblast with your colleagues, friends and family.

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