Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas is devoted to the growth of Leimert Park. The civic leader made the monumental plaza a priority after three years of the area being closed; it’s receiving heightened attention and councilmember Ridley-Thomas showcased some of the upgrades during the Juneteenth reopening celebration.
On Monday, May 17, Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas visited the Leimert Park village while it was under construction. He stated, “As Councilmember for the 10th District, I am committed to working with local stakeholders to not only celebrate the rich cultural and social legacy of Leimert Park Village, but creating a future for the village that is safe, clean and welcoming for all members of the community to enjoy.” During the reconstruction period, Ridley-Thomas shared that a portion of the teal-colored barrier was coming down for more accessibility to the restroom area.
Ridley-Thomas is looking bring justice to underserved communities seen in the rehabilitation of the Leimert Park Plaza. When reflecting on the work of public duty, Ridley-Thomas said, “Equity matters – and it is our responsibility as public servants to make sure that communities of color have access to opportunities and resources. As a long-time resident and elected representative for this community, I am committed to investing in this community and providing resources to uplift the Village.”
Reviving the Leimert Park Plaza was a collaborative effort between community stakeholders and the office of Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas. The primary focus was divided among supporting the local commerce, housing the unsheltered, improving the infrastructure, and reimagining public safety.
Black-owned businesses line the street of Degnan Blvd.; they are watching the renovations being made right outside their door-step. The vision statement released by Councilmember Ridley-Thomas’ office, states that Leimert Park Village is a “major tourist destination,” due to the cultural authenticity found in the food, art, entertainment and the communal warmth surrounding the Leimert Park Village.
Emphasizing the ultimate goal, Ridley-Thomas stated, “My vision for Leimert Park is that we not only remain faithful to its customs, traditions and heritage, but also reinvest in programs that reflect the future we want to see. I am eager to continue building on the progress being made and pull together as a community to make Leimert Park Village the strong, vibrant, culturally-enriched Afro-centric capital of greater Los Angeles.”
On Juneteenth, Ridley-Thomas invited all of Los Angeles to enjoy the reopening of Leimert Park. The celebration included performances by Dj Qwess Coast, Mama Nae Nae of S.H.I.N.E., and the Muwasi Drum Circle. In the heart of the park, there were pony rides and an area for arts and crafts for the youth. Additionally, there was a miniature gymnastic course stationed adjacent to the staple piece of the park, near the water fountain.
During the Juneteenth festival, many Black-owned businesses lined the streets and welcomed new guests who were passing in the streets. Owner, Ani Mayo of Bahari Organix, a business that was stationed as a vendor at the Juneteenth celebration, reflected on what the new federal holiday means to her. She stated, “Juneteenth means freedom to me; it means celebration—it means community, when you arrive here everyone is so happy.”
Mayo continued, “It feels like you’re talking to your uncle, mother, grandmother, or sister, and I really need that especially because my family is not here—it’s a time to connect to your community, to learn who’s down the street.”
These public works led by Ridley-Thomas accumulate to the “motion to ensure an ongoing antiracist framework for governance of, and sustained investment by, the City of Los Angeles.” Happening the same day of the Juneteenth festival, Ridley-Thomas joined Councilmembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson to publicly fortify principles that look to bring equity to underserved communities.
The motion calls upon the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, led by Executive Director Capri Maddox. Within the motion, there is an action requesting a Racial Equity Audit to be performed in existing City programs and policies.
Its looking to reflect the following benchmarks:
Included in the motion is the following mission, “As we move forward with reopening our economy, while we honor and celebrate Juneteenth, we must remain intentional in our collective efforts to create an inclusive and equitable Los Angeles.” This was presented by civic leaders from the 8th, 9th, and 10th district. The motion is being presented in the wake of social change. Ridley-Thomas mentioned the motivation for the motion stemmed from the death of George Floyd and following uprising that happened in the city.
According to the vision outlined by the press release from the office of Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, Leimert Park is looking receive “massive improvement.” Targeting intersections like Degnan and 43rd, Ridley-Thomas is looking to add a new 15ft-wide sidewalk with the curbs and ramps redone. The goal also includes the landscape of trees and repairing the light posts across the village.
The Juneteenth celebration was filled with love of the community and the acknowledgement of freedom. Hundreds of people walked the streets and enjoyed the festival with multiple DJ’s, live music, and a youth play area that included arts and crafts.
In reflection of the community, Councilmember Ridley-Thomas connected as a longtime resident, stating, “There is no greater challenge that this city faces more than our moral consciousness to the dignity of our neighbors, and to the health of our city, than the crisis of homelessness.”
The councilmember stated, “As a long-time resident and elected representative [City, County and State] for this community, I am focused on bringing resources to bear to uplift the Village and celebrate its rich history and resilience.” For more information about the current antiracist framework motion visit the official website for Councilmember Ridley-Thomas.