One of the unique attributes of Leimert Park Village is the community's attachment to its African American roots, culture and history. Every Sunday this community comes together at the open air market in the neighborhood's historic park.
Since revisiting the guitar, Michael says he has been able to overcome his addiction to heroin and crack cocaine and finds his greatest joy when playing his guitar in Leimert Park. To continue this story, scroll down.
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Leimert Park Village Photo Gallery
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Sunday Afternoon in Leimert Park Village
Residents congregate every Sunday in Leimert Park Village's main square to celebrate African American music, culture and giving back.
It is a Sunday afternoon in Leimert Park Village, California. Degnan Boulevard, the city’s main street, is alive with the cacophonous sound of music. African drums seemlessly blend with jazzy electric guitar and piano. A woman adlibs cries between musical lyrics, while people of all ages gather together and dance on plastic chairs, using their surroundings as timpany. An patch-work of rythmns and sounds, blending together to create the unique symphony of Leimert Park Village.
For many, Sunday signifies "a day of rest", while others opt for church services or catching up on emails and chores; but for the residents of Leimert Park Village, Sunday represent a day to celebrate cultural identity, unity and a day to give back to their community.
“Once a month I’ll have some professionals come through, they’ll rap, sing or even play their instruments,” said C. Eziokwa Washington, pointing towards a jazz band called “Love Jazz”. "Donations from today's event will be given to the foundation."
Washington, a 70 year-old Leimert Park resident, is the vice president and director of the WE CAN Foundation in Leimert Park. The WE CAN Foundation is an organization which helps bring technology to schools in Africa and Leimert Park.
"The organization is rooted in the community giving back to education, as we are trying to get supplies and equipment to African and Leimert Park,” says Washington.
Washington is currently planning to expand the WE CAN Foundation by collaborating with jazz musician and community activist Barbara Morrison, the founder and director of the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center.
Located on Degnan Blvd, the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center is within walking distance of the WE CAN Foundation. The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center is one of Leimert Park's most respected establishments, providing residents with a space for artistic and musical expression.
“It's in the natural growing process, but I have talked with Barbara Morrison and we plan to establish a program called the "Cotton Club", which would allow for more opportunities for African American musicians to perform in Leimert Park," said Washington.
Washington says he is looking forward to inviting more of Leimert Parks talented musicians and expanding the program to include performers from the Barbara Morrison Performing Art Center.
For more information on how to donate to the WE CAN Foundation visit: http://wecanf.net/donate
Justin J. Jackson: Keeping Culture Alive in Leimert Park One Portrait at a Time
A young music photographer says that Leimert Park Village provides a ideal backdrop for his photographer studio.
"Leimert Park Village is known for some of the Jazz and Hip-Hop's 'greats'," said Justin J. Jackson, a successful photographer and founder of the J3Collection. Jackson is currently renovating a space in Leimert Park Village into his photograpy studio.
The young photographer dedicates his career to shooting portraits, headshots and album covers for some today's top music artists. His clients include musicians such as Anthony Hamilton, Willow Smith, Neyo and Jene Aioke.