EDITORIAL by Eric WATTREE #wattreechronicles #blues2jazzguy
SAVE OUR LEGACY
As most people in Los Angeles know, the powers that be are in the process of gentrifying Leimert Park much like they’re doing in Harlem, New York. But what many in the community fail to realize is when they pave over communities, they pave over Black history as well. That’s why we have to have a “Black History Month” to recall the contributions that Black people have made to this nation. That shouldn’t be necessary. Black history should be alive all around us seven days a week and throughout the year. Our children should be drenched in it on a daily basis just like White kids.
Washington, D.C. is called Washington, and nearly every street, town, city, and state in this country are named as they are so we’ll be completely immersed in White history. And the fact that those names don’t reflect who we are as Black people is one of the reasons that Black history is so obscure and many of our Black children lack self-esteem. We’ve got to change that. For that reason, I suggest that we mount a campaign to change the name of “Leimert Park” to “Dexter Gordon Park.”
Leimert Park is renown all over the world for being Los Angeles’ principle center of Black art, so before this gentrification takes place, it should be renamed to reflect that reality, and no artist is more deserving, or more perfectly suited for the honor of having Leimert renamed after him than Saxophonist, Dexter Gordon. Dexter, along with drummer Billy Higgins (who played with Dexter), are two of the greatest artists that Los Angeles has ever produced – in fact, two of the greatest artists who’s ever lived. They disseminated Jazz (America’s greatest Art form) all over the world, and they’ve brought our city great notority and recognition as a mecca for genius, beauty, and excellence all around the globe. But due to the tradition of racism inherent to American society, these two great men are recognized virtually everywhere in the world EXCEPT right here in the United States. Elvis has been memorialized, so why not Dexter, and why not Billy? Thus, we shouldn’t just sit quietly back and allow the contributions to humanity of these two artistic giants to be paved over by American history – especially here in Los Angeles.
If we have to fight, so be it. We’ve failed to do that in the past. That’s why the average Black person doesn’t know that the only reason the world can read this message over their computer is because of the brilliance of Dr. Mark Dean, a Black man, who was one of the principle inventors of the personal computer, or Henry T. Sampson, who invented the gamma-electric cell, making cell phones possible. These two Black men have had a pronounced impact on the lives of every person in the civilized world. Our children should know that, because that is a part of their legacy, and they should know about Dexter Gordon and Billy Higgins as well.
I was in Leimert Park the other night, and it made my eyes moist just witnessing the beauty of our people at their best, and at their most artistic. It’s a wonderful thing to see Black people coming together in celebration of who we are, and we should protect that, so we should make Billy Higgins’ “World Stage” a historic landmark, and place statues of both Dexter and Billy in the park itself in recognition of who they WERE, and who we ARE. And we shouldn’t stop there. We should continue on to rename the streets in and around Leimert Park after major contributors to our culture. For example, Vernon Ave., between Alameda and Crenshaw, should be renamed “Dubois Ave,” and Degnan, between the park and 43rd Street, renamed “Eric Dolphy Dr.” Because we are what we think, and that will help our young people, and posterity, to understand our legacy, and our significance as a people.
We always complain about White supremacy, but we never do those things that are necessary to dismantle it, and in order to begin to dismantle it, we MUST do things like this in recognition of the excellence within our community and to bring a sense of pride to our young people. We must leave no stone unturned to make it impossible for us to be depicted as a frivolous people without a past. We’ve got to wake up and get on top of these sort of things – if not for ourselves, for the love of our children, because they too will become what they think.
Neither scholar nor the head of state,
The most common of men seems to be my fate;
A life blistered with struggle and constant need,
As my legacy to man I bequeath my seed.
More fertile, more sturdy these ones than I,
This withered old vine left fallow and dry;
The nectar of their roots lie dormant still,
But through their fruit, I’ll be revealed.
So let us take a moment to think beyond the moment, and think of the dignity and self-esteem of Black children who are yet unborn, just as Dex, and many others, thought about you.
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2 thoughts on “REASONS TO SUPPORT DEXTER GORDON PARK IN LEIMERT VILLAGE – LOS ANGELES”
Fantastic article. . .
Reblogged this on Hipster Sanctuary and commented:
Excellent OP-ED on LOS ANGELES ARTS COMMUNITY