African American History Month begins today; on February 1 we also celebrate the birthday of Langston Hughes, one of the most powerful voices in American poetry.
On this first day of African American Heritage Month, we reflect on the African American community of early Los Angeles.
“Today I sketched the preliminary plans for a large country house which will be erected in one of the most beautiful residential districts in the world... Sometimes I have dreamed of living there. I could afford such a home.
The notion of having one’s own savings account is commonplace to us modern folk. But for former slaves—many of whom had never even seen money—it was an alien concept. And, in a country that runs on capitalism, getting the hang of money management was (and is) essential to survival.
Before Barack Obama, Hiram Revels and Shirley Chisholm helped govern the nation. William Wells Brown wrote a novel before Toni Morrison. Phillis Wheatley published poems before Langston Hughes. And Oscar Micheaux made films before Spike Lee and Ava DuVernay.
We have to wait until the summer of 2028 for Los Angeles to host the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad, but when we do, we will join Paris and London as only the third city to host the Summer Games three times, having previously done so in 1932 and famously, in 1984.