Boyle Heights, Santa Monica, LA discussed on The Times: Daily news from the L.A. Times


Yeah, stories like that are notorious in ethnic studies and you hear it wherever there's community of color in urban areas black, Brown, even you know white working class areas as well. They all got leveled, story after story. Here in Southern California, there's this famous level of freeway section called the four level interchange where four separate freeways cross each other near downtown LA and forever. Politicians and depressed praise it. Oh, this marvel of modern technology. But few remember the working class communities that were pushed out and then from there, not too far away, the same thing happened in the immigrant neighborhood of Boyle heights. Yeah, I mean, and you can really tell so many stories about this placement in Southern California through interstate ten, which at four level freeways involved and also, as you mentioned in Boyle heights, the ten is part of the 135 acre east LA interchange, which when it was built absolutely devastated the neighborhood, freeways and Boyle heights pushed out more than 10,000 people and what was at the time a Mexican and multi ethnic community. Now, of course, you know, in part because the destruction caused by freeways Boyle heights, one of the hearts of Mexican American activism in the U.S. and then going west on the tenon to south LA. You hit a neighborhood that was called sugar hill, which was a well off enclave of black families, hattie mcdaniel, the black actress who won an Oscar for her role and Gone with the Wind. She lived there, residents had pushed for ending covenants that prohibited black people from living in certain communities in Los Angeles and across the country from that neighborhood. Yet just as those efforts are becoming successful, planners put the ten freeway through the neighborhood, which devastating it, right? And then at the end of the ten in Santa Monica, planners there paved over the pico neighborhood, which was then Santa Monica's enclave of black and Mexican American residents. I take the ten, at least once a week, and you don't think of the history and the displacement that goes on as you're stuck in traffic and especially in Santa Monica. That's what surprised me about your story was you think about Santa Monica, at least I do. You know, super rich, super liberal. Everything progressive. You don't think displacement and you don't think working class, but at one point, Santa Monica was way more diverse. There's books about Santa Monica's past, but I wanted to hear it a little bit more of that pass from you. In fact, in 1960 before the ten came through and some other urban renewal projects that also targeted black neighborhoods in the city. You know, there were more black residents in Santa Monica than there are today, even though the city's overall population is of course grown over the past 60 years. And so through my reporting on what was happening and what's been happening in Santa Monica, I met this woman with deep roots in the city. Her name is nichelle Monroe. My mother's father is part of the runs and family. One of the pioneer black families of Santa Monica. We've been there since the early 1900s. Charles abr Brunson, my great grandfather came to Santa Monica from the Georgia area and our family has been there in some capacity ever since in Santa Monica. Weather living or working or both. And so Michelle's family is part of a community of other black households that migrated to Santa Monica and other parts of California. This happened early 1900s and forward. We hear a lot about the Great Migration where black families move from the Deep South where they were facing extreme brutal segregation to other parts of the country and in Santa Monica was one of the places where folks came and settled in the pico neighborhood. My grandmother, my father's mother, used to enjoy the nightlife. She was a single lady at the time in the 50s and 60s. She said she used to put them up and pick them up and put them down. That was dancing. So yeah, there was a nightlife. There was a very tight close knit black community upwardly mobile people were into each other. They had to be racism was still thick in Santa Monica. So in order to have survival units, people cleaved together. And they had their own businesses and own churches and.

Coming up next