From the moment President Joe Biden was elected, Destination Crenshaw set its sights on a new racial equity program launched by The U.S. Department of Transportation under its newly appointed secretary, Pete Buttigieg.
“Federal, state and local transportation policies and projects have devastated Black neighborhoods for generations, destroying Black wealth and bulldozing our hard-won sense of community. So as soon as the administration started talking about righting infrastructure wrongs of the past, I started telling people “ ‘Secretary Pete’ was coming,” said Destination Crenshaw’s President and COO Jason Foster.
Given that there’s no other project anywhere that resembles Destination Crenshaw – which combines governmental investment in public infrastructure works, along with social, economic and cultural uplift for a historically Black neighborhood – Destination Crenshaw’s confidence was well-placed.
Earlier this month, Councilmember Marqueece Harris Dawson, accompanied by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Congresswoman Karen Bass, hosted Buttigieg for a quick visit to the community’s historic mural on the Wall and the construction site of the future Sankofa Park, Destination Crenshaw’s West African themed anchor park at one end of its 1.3-mile-long corridor. That stretch, comprising DC’s footprint, parallels the new Metro K line connecting Los Angeles to LAX, and will also feature community gathering spaces, newly planted trees and public installations of art by 100 Black artists.
“The project will attract and support small businesses, provide a pipeline of work for L. A. artists and offer a space for gathering in the heart of L. A.’s Black community,” Buttigieg tweeted about DC after the visit. “Residents are creating a thriving future around this transformed boulevard.”
Immediately before his visit, Buttigieg attended a dedication ceremony at which he celebrated the future Expo/Crenshaw station along Metro’s K Line, scheduled to begin operating later this year.
The councilmember urged Buttigieg to invest more federal dollars in DC, and the secretary, visibly moved by his visit, pledged his support. Destination Crenshaw would seem to embody the reparative goals the department is pursuing under the administration.
“It’s important to recognize that past federal transportation investments have too often failed to address inequities, or even made them worse,” Buttigieg wrote in January in his department’s Equity Action Plan. “And because a piece of physical infrastructure endures for decades, families and communities today must contend with the results of discriminatory choices that may date back generations.
Destination Crenshaw’s aim is to counteract these impacts by creating hundreds of local jobs for neighborhood residents, ultimately leaving a legacy of permanence and prosperity.
— By Ann Marsh
Coverage of Secretary Buttigieg’s visit: