Art, music and people gathered for a colorful celebration at the 50thanniversary of St. Elmo Village on May 25-26 in South Los Angeles.
Founded in 1969 by the late Rozzell Sykes, the community center has become a cultural landmark for its enduring promotion of arts education through workshops and cultural events. In recognition of reaching the half-century mark, scores of supporters from throughout the city attended the street festival.
The two-day event, emceed by actor Charles Reese, highlighted several local musicians and artists. Reflecting the diversity of L.A., the program featured the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, swing music by the Fernando Pullum Youth Orchestra, jazz by Sandra Booker and Dwight Trible, and salsa by La Verdad.
Other performers included the Kabasa African Drum and Dance Ensemble, blues vocalist Shawn Amos, and Tepeyollotl Danzantes Aztecas, an Aztec/Mayan dance team. In addition to the show, attendees enjoyed viewing the myriad of artworks dotted throughout the 10 bungalows comprising St. Elmo Village.
Joining the celebration were U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson, along with Ryan Bell, a 2019 graduate of Morehouse College.
Bell, a Dorsey High School alumnus, is among the recipients of billionaire Robert Smith’s pledge to pay off the student loans of the university’s entire class. During his remarks, Bell vowed to “pay it forward” as he prepares for a career in public policy.
According to St. Elmo Village organizers, the festival’s sponsors played a big part in producing the celebration. The contributors included Ridley-Thomas, Wesson, the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Mid-City Neighborhood Council and Walter N. Marks Realty.