Black Los Angeles Project

July 6, 2012 — The Los Angeles Times features a story on the major renovation of a Black Los Angeles landmark, the Dunbar Hotel.  You can access the story by clicking HERE.  A fuller discussion of Los Angeles’s historic Crenshaw Corridor is presented in Chapter 2 of the Bunche Center’s edited volume Black Los Angeles:  American Dreams and Racial Realities.


Los Angeles County is second only to Cooke County, Illinois when it comes to the number of African American residents. Nearly a million Americans of African descent live, work, and play in the county. The figure is even larger for the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

But what do we know about this population?

Because Los Angeles is so large, the large absolute number of blacks in the region represents a relatively small, 11 percent or so of the overall population. This demographic reality partially explains why Black Los Angeles has been understudied relative to other important African American urban areas around the nation. The Black Los Angeles Project was established to correct this oversight by focusing the expertise of Bunche Center-affiliated faculty and friends on excavating important knowledge about the history and the contemporary conditions associated with Black Los Angeles.

In May 2010, the Bunche Center published a 16-chapter edited volume, Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities (NYU Press, 2010), that examines the historical and contemporary contours of black life in the City of Angels. The Center hosted a major conference in the Spring of 2010 to kick-off the book’s publication. Video of the symposium can be found on Bunche TV. This first phase of the project is complemented by continuing work on the compilation of oral histories, demographic data collection, and the development of a digital archive featuring project-related items of interest to future researchers.

Nearly 100 scholars and community members from throughout the region participated in a series of working group meetings hosted by the Bunche Center between 2005 and 2006. The goal of the groups was to identify the critical issues one must study in a volume focused on “Black Los Angeles.”

The following are the working groups, along with publications that facilitated discussion:

Communities & Neighborhoods Working Group

Krikorian, M. (2005, July 15). “War And Peace in Watts.” LA Weekly, pp. 30.

Banks, S. (2005, August 28). “Inglewood High Class of 1975.” Los Angeles Times, pp. A1, A32-33.

Social Justice Working Group

Chavez, S. (2002, April 22). “A Rescuer’s Tale: Fight, Then Flight.” Los Angeles Times. p. A1.

Fausset, R. (2005, February 11). “The State: In Black L.A., Reaction Is Strong but Complex.” Los Angeles Times. p. A1.

Putta, K.K., Haines, E. & Johnson, A. (2003, January 8). “Alleged Racial Profile Victims Tell of Stops.” Los Angeles Times. p. B1.

Reitman, V. & Landsberg, M. (2005, August 11). “The State: Watts Riots, 40 Years Later.” Los Angeles Times. p. A1.

Stoll, M. A. & Raphael, S. (2005). “Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice in Los Angeles.” State of Black Los Angeles Report, Appendix A

Religious Life Working Group

Dai, I. (2005, March 14). “Changing demographics imperil churches.” San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Wong, L. J. (1997, Oct. 19). “L.A. Churches.” Los Angeles Times. pg. M1

Robinson-Jacobs, K. (1997, Dec. 27). “Religion: Uniting Faith, Culture.” Los Angeles Times. pg. B4.

Cultural Production Working Group

Catania, S. (2005, October 23). “Towers of Power.” Los Angeles Times. p. I18.

Balassone, M. (2005, June 18). “Veteran Newsman Signs Off.” Los Angeles Times. p. E20.

Chocano, C. (2005, June 12). “A Burst of Movement: Hope is on the Rise.” Los Angeles Times. p. E1.

McLellan, D. (2004, August 8). “Obituaries: Larry McCormick, 71.” Los Angeles Times. p. B18.

Rasmussen, C. (2004, July 11). “L.A. Then and Now: Swinging Again to the Up-Tempo Sounds of Central Avenue.” Los Angeles Times. p. B3.

Martinez, T. A. (1997). “Popular Culture as Oppositional Culture: Rap as Resistance.” Sociological Perspectives, 40 (2). pp. 265-286.

Political Participation Workgroup

Anderson, S. (2002, Aug. 25). “Valley Secession: Sound of Silence Among Blacks.” Los Angeles Times. p. M1.

Bobo, L. & Gilliam, F.D. (1990). “Race, Sociopolitical Participation, and Black Empowerment.” The American Political Science Review, 84 (2), pp. 377-393.

Doyle, S. (2005, March 21). “‘Ebony triangle’ residents fight for causes together.” San Bernardino Sun.

Pollard-Terry, G. (2004, Oct. 2). “Activism with style.” Los Angeles Times. p. E19.

Ridley-Thomas, M., Gilliam, F.D., & Abdullah, M.R. (2005, April 3). “Mayor’s Race: Blacks Will Decide Who Wins.” Los Angeles Times. p. M2.