LA Times: “A uniquely Southern California take on the African American experience uncovers deep insights”

The LA Times was duly impressed by the scope and depth of the work included in Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities, Edited by Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramon.

The book brings together the research interests of what Hunt describes as an “all-star team” of contributors, most but not all of them academics with strong California connections. Comprising 17 short to medium-length essays, it pivots from data-rich analyses of how the black community’s 20th century demographic center gradually has shifted from Central Avenue to Leimert Park, to interview-driven, anecdotal accounts of the rise and decline of Venice’s Oakwood neighborhood and a revealing chronicle of the black-owned SOLAR (Sounds of Los Angeles Records), a late ’70s-early ’80s R&B hit-making machine for groups including the Whispers, Shalamar and Klymaxx.

It also includes multidisciplinary, L.A.-centric essays on incarceration’s impact on black families, the relationships between gay African Americans and their religious communities, and the ethnic-minority admissions policies of UCLA, among other thorny topics.

More than half a dozen years in the making, the roughly 430-page volume is believed to be the first such project of its kind. Despite its formidable size, the authors say, L.A.’s black population has been relatively under-analyzed in comparison with New York, Chicago and other northeastern and Midwestern centers of black population.

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