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The free silent film workshop at William S. Hart Park and Museum returns

Back by popular demand, the free silent film workshop for young people at the William S. Hart Park and Museum in Newhall, California is back for an encore. For the second year in a row, the Los Angeles County’s Civic Art Program will extend an invitation to prospective applicant’s 10 to 17 years of age, to take part in five free silent film workshops.

The workshops begin Saturday, July 7 and continue each Saturday thereafter, until August 4. In the workshops, young participants will learn how to create a short digital film, edit their project using state-of-the-art equipment and work with teachers from the CalArts Community Arts Partnership. They also will receive acting and theater instruction from teachers from the Canyon Theater Guild, and take a private tour of the William S. Hart Museum. For more information about this free summer workshop at William S. Hart Park visit:

Click here for more information on the William S. Hart park Museum.

What’s new around the MLK Campus?

Martin Luther King, Jr. Campus Construction Update

Work continues apace at the MLK Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center (MACC) construction site, where workers have installed the pile foundation, underground utilities and the building’s footings. At the Inpatient Tower, workers have completed installation of the new chillers and cooling towers and now are installing the plumbing, electrical wiring and walls. Erection of structural steel for the new ancillary building also is underway.

New New Women’s Clinic Across the Street

A new woman’s health center opened on April 24 across the street from the new Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center campus. Planned Parenthood’s new Stoller-Filer health center, which has four counseling rooms and four exam rooms, will provide a range of women’s health services, including; testing, treatment and vaccines for sexually transmitted infections; pregnancy testing and services; emergency contraception including the morning-after pill; men’s healthcare services; HIV testing; birth control; and abortion referral. No abortions will be performed at the center. The health center accepts Medi-Cal and Family PACT (planning, access, care, treatment) therefore no one seeking medical services ever will be turned away.

The Stoller-Filer health center uses the widely successful Promotoras Comunitarias program to address the lack of access to reproductive health care information in the Latino community. This group has reached over 150,000 residents in Los Angeles County since its launch in 1990. After 214 hours of training, Planned Parenthood Promotoras go to schools, homes and community centers to provide information sessions that cover reproductive health, family violence, and alcohol and drug abuse. The group also stages a play based on a true story entitled “La Decisión” in order to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

The health center is located at 11722 South Wilmington Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90059. Operating hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM. The health center will be fully operational five days a week in the coming months. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 576-5544.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas reflects on the 1992 Civil Unrest

Rev. Al Sharpton interviews Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for MSNBC’s PoliticsNation.

Twenty years ago I turned the television on and watched the videotaped beating of Rodney King. Outraged, appalled, and saddened from the images on the screen a part of me was also hopeful. I remember thinking, now the reality of the excessive force used by the police department was evident for the whole world to see. This time there was no denying the wrongful actions of the four police officers tasked with protecting and serving all citizens.

Reporter Marc Brown interviews Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas about the 1992 riots for ABC-7 News.

Like most Americans, I expected a verdict of guilty. I presumed there would be a public recognition that the police brutality, too often used on unarmed black men, would not be condoned.

ABC-7 News’ coverage of 2012 “Day of Dialogue: A Dialogue on Civil Unrest”.

When the verdict exonerated the four police officers and the community exploded, it was not just in response to the beating of Rodney King, but for years of indifference to suffering. I condemned the violence that ensured 20 years ago after the verdict was read and I still do to this day, nonviolence brings about lasting social change not chaos.

On this anniversary people are asking themselves: how far have we come? I believe the answer is far.

NBC News coverage of 2012 “Day of Dialogue: A Dialogue on Civil Unrest”.

We have a police department that is actively engaged with the community, a police chief that that understands that goodwill and trust between communities is essential to peacekeeping, and open dialogue and greatly improved relationships between Korean-Americans and African-Americans thanks to the work of leaders from both communities.

“Day of Dialogue: A Dialogue on Civil Unrest” video shown April 27, 2012.

Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new developments have either been built or are in the process of being built and almost all the buildings that were destroyed during the riots in South Los Angeles have been rebuilt or replaced.

Yes, there is still much to be done, but looking back twenty years later we have made great strides in our recovery efforts.

CBS-2 / KCAL-9 News coverage of 2012 “Day of Dialogue: A Dialogue on Civil Unrest”.

Click here to listen to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas discuss the Los Angeles Riots on National Public Radio.

The Art of Elysium

Fifteen-year-old Lisa has been in-and-out of Los Angeles County-University of Southern California (LAC-USC) Hospital since last year. As a frequent patient, she often finds herself in a hospital bed, staring morosely at a wall. On a recent Wednesday, however, she made her way to the children’s playroom to participate in the weekly fine art workshop hosted by The Art of Elysium, a non-profit organization that brings art to children battling serious medical conditions. The Art of Elysium recruits volunteer artists to visit hospitals throughout Los Angeles to share their talents with chronically-ill children. For two hours each Wednesday at the LAC-USC hospital, children are given the artistic tools they need to nurture their creativity.

“It makes me feel normal when I’m painting,” Lisa said, as she meticulously painted the lines of the Golden Gate Bridge bright red while she spoke. (Hospital policy does not permit the last names of minors, or their medical conditions to be published). Today, Lisa and two other young people are turning blank canvases into dream boards, creating art that reflects their ambitions and goals. To help them express themselves, glitter, markers, paint, colored pencils, ribbons, scissors, pencils and tissue paper have been spread along two wide tables.

“I’m not an artist,” said 15-year-old Sergio, a first time-Elysium participant, “but art makes me feel good.” Sergio was in his hospital room with his mother and brother when a member of the LAC-USC hospital staff invited him to come down to the children’s playroom. So all three ventured to the playroom to spend time together and create art.

Volunteer artist, who assisted the hospital patients while they painted, Leila Baboia, heard about the non-profit organization from a friend who participated in The Art of Elysium’s Self-Esteem Girl Talk Program, an eight week program for girls that are seven to 16 years of age who have been born with facial disfigurements.

“Most of our volunteers get involved through word of mouth,” said Program Director Leslie Culp, who has been with the organization for five years. The organization also goes to LAC-USC on Tuesdays and Thursdays, bringing improvisational comedy and music to the children.

“Through four main disciplines, Music, Theatre/Media Arts, Fine Arts and Fashion/Design, The Art of Elysium runs about 100 workshops a month in pediatric hospitals, The Lowman Special Education School, The Braille Institute and with other support groups, “ Culp said. “If a patient is not able to physically come down to participate in our activity, we bring art to their room,” Culp said. She added that another advantage of the program is that it presents an opportunity for kids to meet other children with the same diagnosis. Child Life Program Director Maria Elena Tome runs the children’s playroom at the LAC-USC hospital and reports directly to doctors on the social progress of their young patients, “When the kids come to the children’s playroom they may not be feeling well, but they get engaged with the artwork and the artist, and leave with tangible art that they can be proud of,” said Tome who went on to say, “The Art of Elysium helps kids leave here with a positive hospital experience.”

To learn more about the Art of Elysium, visit: http://www.theartofelysium.org/

20 Years After the Riots: A More Worldly Los Angeles, A More Insular Los Angeles Times

By Peter Hong

The 1992 riots got me a job at the Los Angeles Times.

Following the civil unrest, the paper responded, as it could back then, by throwing a lot of money and resources at its race problem. It created a special section to cover South Los Angeles, and, though often ham-handed in its execution, made a noble effort to hire many minority journalists throughout the paper. The new City Times section it created had a staff that reminded me of the 1970’s television show “The Mod Squad.” The three staff reporters on the section were racially cast: one African American, one Latino and one Korean American. I joined the Times in 1994, when the original Korean American reporter on the City Times staff left. I was at the Washington Post when the Times called. It was clear why they wanted me. A Times Washington bureau staffer had been advocating for me, and he showed me computer messages from the hiring execs in Los Angeles that always referred to me only as “the Korean guy.” I didn’t like it, but I longed to cover the communities that had erupted in 1992, and I would take any chance I could get. I stayed for fifteen years before joining Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ staff, to return to work in the same neighborhoods that drew me back to Los Angeles in the post-riot era.

My career at the Times roughly covered the rise and fall of newsroom diversity.

The recent news stories marking the 20th anniversary of the riots have given Los Angeles a well-deserved pat on the back. People who live in Los Angeles believe race relations are improving. The LAPD, especially, has been shown as the most substantial indicator of this progress; it is more engaged as a community partner, and the majority of its officers are people of color.

But journalists haven’t explored how another vital sector of Los Angeles may be less able to handle the city’s racial and socioeconomic complexities than it was 20 years ago.

The Los Angeles Times now has only one African American man on its local news reporting staff. That’s worse than 1992; and not much better than 1965, when the Times had no black reporter and sent a messenger to cover the Watts riot. Along with the last black man, there are three black women on the Metro staff. That’s not even enough to start a van pool.

The Times is now far less diverse than the LAPD, an institution forced to reform by a civil rights consent decree.

The paper had much to brag about in the past two decades. There was a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the riots, a massive effort that showcased the size and strength of every part of the paper’s operation.

But the relationship of the news media to the 1992 riots was complicated. There is no doubt journalists performed a great public service in the 1992 coverage. But at the same time, in the communities that burned, the news media –and especially the Los Angeles Times– was blamed by many as a cause of the riots.

This could be the topic of another lengthy essay, but can be crudely summarized this way: In the years prior to 1992, Korean Americans, African Americans and Latinos felt both stereotyped and ignored by the news media. African Americans and Latinos believed they were not only stigmatized by distorted coverage of crime and poverty, but also that their political and economic interests also got short shrift in coverage.

Korean Americans felt strongly that coverage of tragedies like the shooting of teenager Latasha Harlins by a Korean American store owner inflamed tensions by failing to examine the broader issues of economic and social injustice that put Latasha Harlins and Soon Ja Du in their respective places that tragic day, while publishing superficial, stereotype-laden stories about cultural and racial notions of rudeness.

Again, the merits of these perceptions may be debated at length, but their existence in many Second District neighborhoods at the time was obvious to anyone who paid attention at the time. Korean American store owners repeatedly complained to me about the Times. Anyone who went to the movies in the 1990’s remembers that along with previews, there was always an artfully-produced feature promoting the Los Angeles Times. If you were seeing a movie at, say, the theaters in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, you’d fairly often hear people boo when the Times promo appeared. Sometimes, they’d shout “L.A. Crimes” when the Times logo appeared on the screen.

People felt the Times didn’t reflect their world, in both its staffing and coverage. There was real resentment. As a Times reporter in the mid-1990’s, I recall asking an African American man for his thoughts on a subject, and he politely declined to speak to me. I offered my business card, and he did not extend a hand to take it. I left it on the tabletop in front of him. As I walked away, I turned to see that he left it there, not wanting to touch it. Exchanges like this weren’t frequent, but they weren’t rare, either.

Around the same time, an African American Times staffer told me she knocked on the door of a random house to see if she could interview its resident. When she introduced herself as a Times reporter, the African American woman who had answered the door reflexively laughed – she just couldn’t believe a Times reporter was in her neighborhood, and a young black woman at that.

There was real tension within the Times newsroom as well. During the riots, some minority staffers at the Times felt they were being “big-footed” or subjected to second-class status in the reporting assignments.

This opened deeper concerns that minorities were both few in number on the staff and subject to a “glass ceiling” of limited opportunities for advancement. Some white staffers felt the opposite, believing minority quotas led to hiring and advancement of unqualified minorities. I wasn’t on the Times staff then, but had many friends at the paper who were telling me about open conflicts in real time. As minority staffers aired their grievances, several told me the newsroom’s cultural gulf was summed up by a white colleague’s plea to stop, because “you’re going to ruin our Pulitzer!”

Just as the LAPD began to transform in the late 1990’s, the Times saw the complexion of its staff evolve. There would be an African American editor of the editorial pages, who became the Metro editor. Dean Baquet became the paper’s first African American editor-in-chief.

But the spurt of minority hiring in the few years after the riots was undermined by a more powerful shift: the decline of newspapers in general. The post-riot City Times section was shut down in 1995, along with all of the paper’s suburban sections during a cost-cutting led by Mark Willes, the controversial former General Mills executive who was the Times CEO. As he cut staffing overall, Willes also started the Latino Initiative, an effort to boost Latino readership. Though driven by marketing, the Latino Initiative also led to the hiring and promotion of several Latino staffers. Such contradictions were the norm; real gains were made in some areas, while bigger losses offset them.

The Times actually had a very strong group of minority writers who had been on staff before 1992. They included Ed Boyer, John Mitchell, George Ramos, Janet Clayton, Ashley Dunn and Mark Lacey. Many left for various reasons over the years and weren’t replaced by similarly seasoned veterans.

Minority staffing became largely bifurcated: there would be a handful of very visible top managers who were minorities, and a cohort of young reporters in the paper’s minority training program or recently out of college.

As the newsroom staff shrank, the Times’ hiring practices perpetuated this two-tiered staffing pattern that is today’s status quo. Minorities came to the paper primarily through the minority hiring program, while the overwhelming majority of hires for full-fledged staff positions have been white. I don’t know why this has been the case, but the numbers are what they are.

In the communities I once covered as a Times reporter, where I now work as a deputy to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the resentment of the paper has faded.

Perhaps most tragically, as circulation and staffing have plummeted, the Times now lacks the everyday presence to get people worked up about its coverage the way they did 20 years ago. They may feel the Times abandoned them, but increasingly, the abandonment goes both ways. They may think the Times has stopped trying; but, too often, they now have stopped caring.