WISHING YOU AND YOURS HAPPY EVERYTHING IN 2022 AND BEYOND
Love the Past. Embrace the Future. Share the Joy.
With the new year we must not forget that those who ignore history have no past and no future. With the events of the recent domestic violent terrorism insurrection at the nation’s capital by White American vigilantes, the GOP leaders push for a new generation of Jim Crow laws around the country intended for disenfranchising African Americans and other people of color and other forms of White supremacy backlash against Black citizens’ contemporary demand for dignity and equity — now more than ever federal, state and local governments, and we as citizens with nongovernmental organizations, should invest in and promote history and civic education and other efforts to strengthen democratic norms and values.
As a historian, I understand the present by looking at the past that shaped it. Additional my work is a social justice action practice to expand knowledge for the construction of a more inclusive public culture, historical memory, and national identity encompassing the diverse experiences of the American people and to dismantle institutional racism. I speak truth to power as I uncover historical omissions and once-forgotten stories to reconstruct and reinsert them in civic memory through different programming modes. I and others are sharing these stories to empower and inspire people for a more fair and equitable future.
Join me in exploring the past and gaining inspiration to shape the present and future from all these activities and a few articles I highlight below.
LA County Library Presents ARJ and Others in Conversation about the Legacy of Bruce’s Beach and Updates on its Contemporary Significance
As part of the Heart & Hand Book Talk Series, Los Angeles County Library Director Skye Patrick will moderate an insightful conversation between me, Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson, historian and author of Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era, who will also contribute a keynote historical overview, and Dominique DiPrima, host of First Things First on KBLA TALK 1580.
On Wednesday, January 19 at 5.30pm, join us for an eye-opening look at the history of Bruce’s Beach and its significance on conversations about historical injustices and structural inequalities. The conversation about the legacy of Bruce’s Beach will include a look at the role of community and media in spreading awareness about social justice issues. Find an event flyer and registration information here.
Forth District Supervisor Janice Hahn, who has been one of the instrumental leaders in the effort to return Bruce’s Beach to its descendants, will also make a special appearance. Further, Manhattan Beach resident retired educator Dr. Anthony Lee will make remarks about what inspired him to contribute books to the new Los Angeles County Library Bruce’s Beach Commemorative Collection to feature African American experience subject matter that will be unveiled later in 2022.
ARJ, 2021-22 Getty Scholar in Residence and Art + Ideas Podcast Guest
It has been a while since I shared a formal news blast and for good reason: I have been very busy as a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Conservation Institute. Since September 2021 I have been focused on a new research project to document the historical African American experience in the Venice district of Los Angeles’ California coastal zone which has its origins in the early twentieth century. I am also exploring how heritage conservation and other public policies might help sustain this community and its legacy.
This research includes collecting individual stories of people who lived in this community. I am also collecting photographs and other materials which can showcase this community. This research is a continuation of work I have already done on the African American experience in Santa Monica and the small bit I have done on Venice before now that is illuminated in my recent book, Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era and Santa Monica’s Belmar History + Art project. I intend for this current research to be used for among other things an eventual manuscript and Applied History project that I will seek funding for.
I am excited to share my work garnered me an invitation to speak with Jim Cuno, president of the Getty Trust on his Art + Ideas podcast. This episode will launch on Wednesday, February 16. Here is a link to the main podcast page.
Curriculum About the Historical African American Experience in Santa Monica Now Available for K-12 Classrooms
I am excited to announce the curriculum for Santa Monica’s Belmar History + Art project (BH+A) which commemorates the history of African American visitors, residents, and business owners in the South Santa Monica beach neighborhoods can finally be downloaded and used in K-12 classroom. Master teachers created third, fourth, eighth, and eleventh grade, along with high school Ethnic Studies lessons that are available in face-to-face and online formats with information about the teachers (Cristina Paul, Shomara Godden, Sara Rodriguez, and Adrienne Karyadi) who created them here.
The lesson plan development was led by the University of California, Los Angeles’ History Geography Project/Center X Director Daniel Diaz, and BH+A’s Historian Alison Rose Jefferson. You can read more about the Belmar History + Art project and all its components, including the grade school lesson plans here.
The Belmar History + Art project is a resonating multifaceted education, inspirational and civic commemorative justice project. It includes a context essay, outdoor exhibition, lesson plans, and community engagement programming. Funded by the City of Santa Monica and required by the California Coastal Commission for construction of the Historic Belmar Park, this project reconstructs, elucidates, and reinserts 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 back into the urban landscape of the city, the region and the nation.
Living the California Dream…Book and Other Work Continues to Garner Praise and Media Attention
In recent months the book, Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era (University of Nebraska Press, 2020) or other work was profiled, reviewed, or mentioned in articles where I was quoted in American and European media, including Sky News TV (British), Los Angeles Times, LAist.com, High Country News magazine, KFI AM 640/iHeartRadio and KPFK 90.7FM, MSNBC TV, NBC TV, anthrodendum.org, Spectrum News 1, RFI radio (French), and Le Monde newspaper (French). Academic journal book reviews arrived in recent issues of the Journal of Geography and Southern California Quarterly.
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.
Black folks stories matter! Here are a few articles 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.
- “The Black people who lived in Walden Woods long before Henry David Thoreau” By Sydney Trent, The Washington Post or pdf, November 28, 2021.
- “Connecticut tobacco field where MLK worked to be historically protected” by Mychael Schnell, TheHill.com, October 11, 2021.
- “Chicago’s new African American Heritage Water Trail. A little-known river on Chicago’s South Side was once a vital part of the Underground Railroad” by Tiffany Walden, Untold America series, BBC Travel.com, 2021.
- “In Search of the Black Utopia. Seneca Village has more stories to tell about Black lives in New York City” by Brent Staples, The New York Times or pdf, January 9, 2022.
Here is one more inspirational story about a Los Angeles area young man who has challenged perceptions about who can swim at the Olympian competition level.
- “Proud Paralympian: Embracing disability helped Team USA’s Jamal Hill blossom in Tokyo” by Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2021.
You are invited to share this newsblast with your colleagues, friends and family.