Mary Lee is a longtime South Los Angeles activist and the Deputy Director of PolicyLink. Ms. Lee is a practicing attorney with more than 20 years of experience working in communities throughout California, with special emphasis on issues of housing, land use, and community economic development. A former L.A. Transportation Commissioner, Ms. Lee has long worked for the legal and civil rights of the low-income people of her city. Ms. Lee’s broad experience advising community groups and advocacy campaigns make her a key liaison in the organization’s health, housing, infrastructure, and civil rights efforts.
Aurea Montes-Rodriguez is the Vice President of Organizational Growth at Community Coalition, a social justice non-profit based in South Los Angeles. Born in Mexico but raised in South L.A., Aurea is responsible for the development and sustainability of the organization. She is a passionate advocate and community organizer focusing on building black and brown unity who has been working in South L.A. for nearly fifteen years.
John Kim currently serves as the Co-Director of the Advancement Project and the Director of the Healthy City Project. Through his work on Healthy City, John has provided direct policy and research support to local elected officials, philanthropic entities, and countless community-based organizations throughout the region. John has long focused on social justice and community development issues in both Oakland and Los Angeles.
Karen Bass is the U.S. Representative for California’s 33rd congressional district. Prior to her serving as the current Congress member for CA-33rd, Karen Bass made history when the California Assembly elected her to be its 67th Speaker, catapulting her to become the first African American woman in the country to serve in this powerful state legislative role. In 1990 Bass founded and ran Community Coalition, a community-based social justice organization in South Los Angeles to empower residents to get involved in making a difference.
Annetta Wells-Starks, one of the first graduates of Community Coalition’s youth program, South Central Youth Empowered thru Action (SCYEA) is currently the Los Angeles and San Diego Field Coordinator for California Calls, a statewide alliance of community groups working to revitalize the California dream.
Dr. Manuel Pastor is Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and currently directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at USC. His work focuses on issues of the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities – and the social movements seeking to change those realities.
Susan Burton is the founder and executive director of A New Way of Life Reentry Project in South Los Angeles, an organization that provides reentry services for women returning from prison, and advocates for on their behalf.
Wanda Enix, a long-time resident of South Los Angeles and relative caregiver who was active in the Kinship in Action program at Community Coalition since the 1990s, speaks about what her community was like before the 1992 civil unrest and how much it changed after.
Francis Fikes, a long-time South Los Angeles resident and community activist who was involved in the “Rebuilding South L.A. Without Liquor Store” campaign in 1992, speaks on her community and how it was affected by the 1992 Civil Unrest
Please share your stories and reflections of the 20th anniversary of the Civil Unrest: what do you think led to the Civil Unrest? What progress has South L.A. made since then? What do we still need to work on?