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Bringing Destination Crenshaw to the Taste of Soul Experience

October 17 – I’ve always known “the Shaw” was special. There’s something different about how we carry ourselves amid all the obstacles thrown our way. Even in hard times and with few resources, we create joy and opportunities.

No event in Southern California encapsulates our ability to do this like Taste of Soul, the single greatest economic driver for African American businesses in our city. Why just the third Saturday in October? We deserve the same economic opportunity in the Crenshaw Blvd. area year-round, and to live in a city that is of the people who built it.

Destination Crenshaw’s mission is to transform the Crenshaw Corridor into an economic center that prioritizes investments in local businesses and will continue to foster entrepreneurial possibilities, but for the benefit of the local community. Our best and brightest people and inventions have historically been appropriated to benefit other communities over the ones that have cultivated them. Destination Crenshaw aims to preserve and celebrate the legacy of the Crenshaw Corridor and benefit the Crenshaw community.

When I heard there was going to be a metro-line running at street level right through our district, I knew we had to create a unified front to push back against the threat of displacement for our community spaces, local businesses and loved ones.

I, along with dozens of other local advocates, spent the last three years meeting with thousands of residents, community leaders, and organizations to envision how we could protect our culture and history against the threat of gentrification. Destination Crenshaw, a non profit organization, will be a 1.3-mile open-air people’s museum flanking the new Crenshaw/LAX Line, and is our community’s way to carry on the tradition of turning insults into joy and opportunities.

Destination Crenshaw will hire a majority of local construction workers, local artists and local vendors to build 10 African-American-themed platforms and pocket parks, 100 art installations, digital storytelling components, and culturally-curated street infrastructure and landscaping improvements, that provide a living reflection of Black L.A. and the creativity and innovation that pours out of our community.

We need to be seen, appreciated, and celebrated at this scale more than once a year. We need more outlets to celebrate our beautiful traditions, reflect on the strides our communities have achieved, and educate others on Black history and the monumental contributions from Black L.A. When Black communities aren’t valued, private developers and corporations believe they can have their way and roll out agendas that exclude the very residents that have called Crenshaw home for generations.

Even as we prepare for the next phase in planning, we’re continuing to seek out your input. Canvassers have begun to make their way door-to-door through the Crenshaw neighborhoods to provide exciting updates in-person and encourage folks to share their ideas for how the Destination Crenshaw team can help promote our thriving community spirit.

And I, of course, hope to see all of you this year at the Destination Crenshaw Lounge at Taste of Soul, where we will be hosting activities all-day-long, ranging from Trap Yoga, Blebrity x Shade Room sponsored games, performances by Debbie Allen Dance Academy, to panel discussions on fashion, beauty, and business.

I look forward to hearing from you at the Taste: What do you think we should do to create a strong, interconnected, thriving community?

Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson | LA Sentinel