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The African-American Scene in Los Angeles

From silk on Sunset to jeans and T-shirts on Imperial, from Navigators slow winding down Sepulveda to Cutlass coupes bouncing up Broadway, the Black experience in Los Angeles is extremely diverse. Heavily concentrated south of the 10, Black LA is everywhere and nowhere, the door standing ajar just off the main strip, always there but often forgotten. Home to Pulitzer nominees, liquor store managers with Southern accents, platinum-selling recording artists, terrifying criminals, and everyday, salt-of-the-earth Black folk; people quick to call you "partner" or "brother," "dawg," "fool" or "sir."

The Where:
While the borders of Black LA are vague, jagged and wildly permeable, the community staples never let you down. Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles. The Forum. Leimert Park. The Century Club. Slauson Swap Meet. FAME. The Watts Towers. The Crenshaw District. You'll always find Black people congregating, living, loving, dying around these epicenters of Black public life, and many others like them. There are bursts of ethnicity outside these confines, as people have ventured east and north, but "the 'hood" is where it all comes together.

The When:
From December's Kwanzaa Festival to summer's African Marketplace, from January's MLK Day Parade to April's Hoodie Awards, celebrations and remembrances slow dance with the population to a year-round beat. Every Sunday night, young people parade metallic pride up and down Crenshaw Boulevard, modern equivalent to Central Avenue as a focal point. Every summer, you can count on short skirts and shiny shoes dancing at SummerJam or other hyped concerts. Word of mouth is the internet of these streets, where promoters plaster telephone poles, barber shops, and boarded up businesses with announcements of good times, while supplies last.

The How:
While information flows freely amongst people, there's tons of local media resources to guide the uninitiated. The Los Angeles Sentinel has gone with the Black community -- from its genesis on Central to its present in the middle of Crenshaw's liveliness -- since its activist origins in 1933. The Los Angeles Herald-Dispatch, The Watts Times, The Wave (found on South Central lawns every Wednesday for as long as anybody can remember) -- all have served as vital weekly links for Black LA to get news tailored to them. Black LA has often turned to the likes of the New Black Panther Party on King or the US Organization on 54th for its conscience, turned to radio stations like KJLH 102.3 FM, KKBT 100.3 FM, KPWR 105.9 FM and others for how and where to party. Black LA has always had to find its own way, and rewards those who follow its example.

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