On Tuesday, August 1, millions of neighbors celebrated National Night Out (NNO) across thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide—and the Crenshaw District in South Los Angeles was no different. The Crenshaw Manor Community Association (CMCA) recognized the day, between 39th and MLK Blvd., with a potluck block party. CMCA members, Aneetha Rajan, Natalie Powell and Clarence Lutcher spoke about how their event started and why it was needed.
“There was a starting of that many, many years ago,” said Rajan about the local NNO.
“And it turned into this really big event which is the Marlton event that we all know of but three years ago, the Marlton event wasn’t happening… so we [CMCA] said, ‘hey, we should still meet with our police’ because we attend our neighborhood watch meetings, we know who they are.”
NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live which is stated on their website. The annual event enhances relationships between neighbors, law enforcement broadening a better sense of community. The CMCA block parties started in 2015 as the neighborhood group saw a need for the event.
“We wanted to connect our community,” said Rajan. “Our neighborhood is diversifying, there is more and more new people moving in and they’re neighbors who have been there since the community was developed in the 40s.
“My neighbor behind me is 96-years-old, he lives in the house the government allotted him after he was released from the [Japanese] internment camps.”
On NNO, neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. The CMCA block party welcomed over 300 people throughout the event and featured local sponsors, organizations and elected officials who came to show support and share information.
“The National Night Out event presented by the Crenshaw Manor is an example of a community that is connected with the local law enforcement on a number of levels,” said Commander Gerald Woodyard of LAPD Southwest Division. “Crenshaw Manor’s open invitation to Southwest Area to attend and participate in this wonderful National Night Event is a testament to their strong relationship and I am looking forward to attending next year’s events, [which] I am sure that it will be just as wonderful.”
“City National has a long history of supporting organizations in Crenshaw and we were so pleased to be able to participate in this incredible night out for families that Crenshaw Manor put together last week,” said Peter Jackson, branch manager for City National Bank’s new Crenshaw branch, which opens later this year. “Crenshaw Manor is an important resource as they keep our community connected through local events and we look forward to supporting more organizations and events in Crenshaw.”
The Community Health Council issued this statement about the CMCA NNO block party:
“Community Health Councils is honored to have served as the Fiscal Agent for the Neighbors of Crenshaw Manor’s successful National Night Out event. Being part of this event allowed us to slow down and chat with many of the wonderful residents from Crenshaw Manor, and surrounding areas, including Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park. Neighbors coming together to share a meal and get to know one another is part of what makes this such a vibrant area. We’re looking forward to participating again next year.”
Rajan, Powell and Lutcher shared some of the feedback they have received after the event
“The feedback I’ve been getting is that other neighborhoods don’t do things like that with their neighbors,” said Powell.
“We have wonderful neighbors, we do have a wonderful community and it is a partnership.”
“It’s so easy to work with the community trying to get the rest of the community to work closely with the police department rather than having issues with [them],” said Lutcher.
“We just hope the total community will fall in and enjoy [NNO] the way we do and I think they are because from what we saw at our event, people were so happy to talk with the police officers and get along with them.
“It was just a wonderful outing.”
“It’s very important that we stay strong as a neighborhood and united so we can come together to introduce ourselves to local businesses that are opening up [and] developers that are coming into the area,” said Rajan.
“This is a wonderful opportunity, our National Night Out potluck, which is really special.
“It’s really nice to break bread with your neighbors.”
The Crenshaw Manor Community Association is grateful for all the sponsors who helped them put this event together. They would like to thank the Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Community Health Councils, LAPD Southwest Division, Kaiser Permanente, Angelus Funeral Home, City National Bank, Los Angeles Fire Department, Michelle’s Country Diner, Fred Leeds Properties, Retran and special thanks and a warm hug to the neighbors and community of the Crenshaw District.