The police killing of George Floyd and the resulting rise of activism around black lives matter has suddenly made the shopping district of Leimert Park once again a destination for discussion, gatherings, and commerce.
Small business owners all along Degnan Boulevard are banding together to build on this new era of vibrancy.
What You Need To Know
- In the midst of the global pandemic and racial tensions occurring worldwide, Leimert Park is experiencing a revival
- The police killing of George Floyd and surge of BLM activism has made the shopping district once again a destination for discussion, gatherings, and commerce
- The movement’s push to support Black-owned businesses has also attracted Black shoppers who are intent on spending money in their communities
- Even with gentrification affecting Leimert Park, Black-owned businesses remain supportive of each other
Sundays seem to be a joyful day for the Leimert Park community because of its music and overall atmosphere.
“There are more people here than ever," said Queen Aminah, the owner of Aminah’s Clothing. "It is a great place to socialize while wearing your mask and staying safe. You know, it’s freedom over here on Sundays, where you can be yourself, you can relax, all nationalities and everyone is welcome. We just come here and have a grand time."
"Historically, when you think of Black culture, you think of Harlem," said Earl Omari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. "That was there for decades. You have arts, culture, and drama in the vibrancy of Blacklight. In the last couple of decades, Leimert Park has crept into that in the West."
Black Lives Matter brings new vitality to Leimert Park. Owners are hoping it will last https://t.co/hPQjQWz55i— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) September 11, 2020
Leimert Park is a hub where black-owned businesses, art, and perception come together.
“When I first came to L.A., I was in Santa Monica and Brentwood, where there was not too much culture I was familiar with," said Adé Neff, owner of Ride On Bike Shop. "So Leimert Park would be where I come for poetry readings, jazz performances, and the drum circle. I was always here. But I didn’t know that I would be opening up a bicycle shop right in the heart of Leimert Park."
Back in the 1970s, Queen Aminah began designing and making clothing, and she learned that much of the Black community liked African cultural clothing. In 2009, she opened her clothing store that sells African cultural attire.
"We just recently opened back up again," she said. "We were closed for at least six months. Overall, of course, it affected business. It affected the people’s spirit and the community. Everyone felt a certain way about coming out. We are just striving to stay up and stay upbeat and positive and do all that we can in terms of marketing and letting people know that we’re here."
Gentrification has become an issue in Leimert Park, and small businesses are being affected.
“Certainly, maintaining a business with the level of services that will attract people to that business, those are the challenges," said Hutchinson. "Here’s the good news: Leimert Park has a name. You know, we’ve got a magnet to draw people here. This is a prime location. You’ve got a rail line coming through there, you’ve got art, and that is a strength. So build on that."
“We have a business association, and we’re meeting every week where we decide what programs and events we will have," said Aminah. "We have a joint effort in making sure each store maintains a certain amount of business. We do want to have workshops, lectures, and activities throughout the week."