Black History

African Americans have been in L.A. literally since day one: It’s been recorded that of the pobladores – the 44 people and four soldiers who first settled El Pueblo de los Angeles in 1789 – there were two fully black adults, eight partly black adults, and several children of mixed race. But although one of L.A.’s oldest streets, Pico Boulevard, was named for a prominent Angeleno with some African heritage (Pío Pico was one-eighth black), it wasn’t until 1964 when a black person – slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers – was honored with a street in this county. The struggle for recognition and respect continues: aside from thoroughfares named for Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, the rest of these streets are very short, usually just a block or two long.

Streets named for individuals:

Streets that played a notable role, positive or negative, in L.A.’s black history:

  • Alondra Boulevard (Bellflower, Compton, La Mirada, Norwalk, Paramount). For a park that destroyed the planned black community of Gordon Manor.
  • Azusa Street (DTLA). Birthplace of Pentecostalism under the guidance of a black preacher.
  • Central Avenue (Los Angeles (Citywide), Carson, Compton). Vibrant center of 20th century black Los Angeles.
  • Crenshaw Boulevard (L.A. (Citywide), Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Rancho Palos Verdes, Torrance). Target of a failed 2003 proposal to name a street for L.A. mayor Tom Bradley.
  • Leimert Boulevard (Leimert Park). Thoroughfare of a once whites-only, now culturally significant black neighborhood.
  • Marine Avenue (Gardena, Hawthorne, Lawndale, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach). Former portion of Compton Boulevard, controversially renamed in the 1980s.
  • Somerset Boulevard (Bellflower, Paramount). Former portion of Compton Boulevard, controversially renamed in the 1980s.