Back in the early 1960’s there were pockets of black families who lived in an area of Los Angeles called Temple, Flats, and J-Flats. Temple was near the Echo Park area, Flats was the area near the infamous Tommy’s Hamburger stand and Rampart Police Station, and J-Flats was closer to Griffith Park where these black families have had an annual “Neighborhood Reunion Picnic” for the past twenty-five years. These black families are now often referred to as the “Neighborhood Reunion Group” (see slideshow of group here: http://www.examiner.com/parenting-education-in-los-angeles/neighborhood-reunion-picnic-9-4-2010-picture#slide=22021096) and many have made personal contributions to the history of those neighborhoods and other places they have lived and worked throughout the world.
Like most African Americans who grow up in Los Angeles the Neighborhood Reunion Group had the pleasure to also befriend other ethnic groups. Asians, Latinos, and Whites lived in our neighborhoods and provided us with a rich diversity of people to learn from. The two local high schools that most of the neighborhood kids attended were Belmont and Marshall; two of the most diversified schools in all of LAUSD at that time. Those relationships proved to be priceless when I traveled to other parts of the world while in the U.S. Navy.
But during our free time away from school most of us would hang out over each other’s house, visit the local parks, go skating in the streets or skating rink, attend the annual Festival In Black held in McArthur Park, and attend concerts together where famous and upcoming black artists performed. Many of us grew up during the strength of the civil rights movement – so we were well aware of the struggles of our parents. That’s why when I turned 18 years old my father helped me register to vote, and I have voted in every eligible election since.