Discovering Leimert Park

Sunday's Washington Post Travel section proclaimed the Leimert Park neighborhood "one of the country's last strongholds of old-style African American culture and activism, with the happening ethnic flavor of Washington's pre-1968 U Street corridor." Gary Lee writes:

Out of the car and onto the sidewalk, I tracked the sound of jazz notes to the World Stage Performance Gallery, a storefront music joint on Degnan Boulevard in Los Angeles's Leimert Park neighborhood. There, a caramel-colored man sporting a brightly colored dashiki and an Afro was jamming hard on a piano, making wonderful work of "Bitches Brew" and other early Miles Davis tunes.

From there I floated into Zambezi Bazaar, an Afrocentric boutique a few doors away. A "Free Angela Davis" poster hung by the front door and shelves held a selection of vintage publications: a 1963 Time magazine with a cover photo of novelist James Baldwin; a copy of Ebony magazine featuring an article about a rising young Chicago organizer named Jesse Jackson; dog-eared copies of William Grier and Price Cobb's "Black Rage," Stokely Carmichael's "Black Power" and other tomes from an earlier era.

Just about then, the 1970s child inside me was set free...This is Southern California without the tinsel. Designed in the 1920s by landscape architect Frederick Olmsted Jr. (whose father brought us Central Park) as a planned community, the neighborhood consists mostly of pastel-colored Spanish stucco bungalows. Leimert Plaza Park is a small triangular space where many locals while away their afternoons. Magnolias, palms, maples and pines line the streets.

Via Gridskipper


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