The Long Table was not set for food, but service. It was established by Fred Horn in 1972 as a space for L.A.’s Crips and Bloods to sit together and work out their differences. Earlier, he founded the Malcolm X Center to help inner-city youth. Later, Fred founded Anti-Self-Destruction, Inc. to instill pride and unity, focusing on young men in the inner city. These efforts were part of Fred’s lifelong odyssey of unwavering service to the Black community.
Fred Joseph Horn, Jr. came to Los Angeles as a teenager with his family. He starred in football at Manual Arts High School and as a senior, led his team to the city championship. Later, he played semi-professional football with the Los Angeles Mustangs and in 1965-1966 was a defensive back with the Chicago Bears. Fred also loved boxing, boxed professionally, and throughout his life, coached youth and adults.
It’s nearly impossible to describe Fred, but he was real, the exact opposite of phony or superficial. He personified an unapologetic commitment, service and struggle for total Black liberation. His dedication to Black causes was evident to all who met him even though Fred’s style and the intensity of his passion at times blurred his deep faith and convictions. Beneath his patented rambling was a serious, uncompromising persona.
Fred was anxious to share his views (on an array of issues) and sometimes seemed oblivious to time, but never to civility. Making his point was so compelling that he often repeated it, over and over. Fred just wanted to make sure people fully understood what he was trying to say. Those who knew him were accustomed to his looking you right in the eye, close to your face, and in his inimitable way, say something like, “…You got to listen… You got to understand… We’ve got to do something to help our people…”
Typically, his renderings were about how a social, political or economic issue affected Black people-and of course, he had solutions. The community’s dire need for jobs was a favorite topic; for a while, Fred carried a big banner that admonished, Black People Wake Up!!; Wake Up-Wake Up; Black People Must Stop Shopping Where We Are Not Employed. (Shades of L.A. Sentinel founder Colonel Leon Washington, who in 1933 urged Blacks not to shop at stores along Central Avenue that did not hire them.)
Fred Horn’s style and intensity threw people off because, as mentioned earlier, it tended to blur the significance of his premise, which was usually sound and, at times, profound. Like many of us, Fred was outraged over racism’s continuing oppressive tentacles: he was both angry and hopeful, expressing his feelings openly, unashamed, and plain for all to hear. Fred totally and unabashedly loved his children, the eldest, Charles and especially his daughters, Fredricka and Sheena, the apples of his eye and arguably, primary motivation for doing what he did. At times, Fred struggled to make ends meet, but virtually every dollar he could muster went towards the girls’ education and to ensure they were adequately cared for. To say he was a loving father is a huge understatement. His daughters were his life.
Fred joined the Glory Christian Fellowship International Church. He and the pastor, Alton Trimble, had known each other a long time, but over the past seven years, developed a special bond and friendship that extended beyond the church and involved constant communication between them. Pastor Trimble refers to Fred as a true friend and a special human being as well as a regular Sunday dinner guest at his home. (smile). Fred’s faith, association with his church and close relationship with Reverend Trimble were crucial factors in the last years of his life, sustaining him as his health failed.
Fred’s transition service was a moving, fitting tribute to his achievements, courage and life of service to the Black community which he loved so much. The long line of those with remarks and reflections about Fred was wholly celebratory, each person giving his or her unique perspective of Fred, but all conveying essentially the same theme: Fred Horn was an exceptional human being; sensitive, caring, passionate and unwavering in his love and commitment to his family and his people.
I cannot add much to that, but want to say that Fred influenced my life, as well. He was far different from most of the many people I have encountered or worked with over the years. Fred was no frills real and always the same- a selfless, caring, eccentric guy who stood up for what he believed- a rare, exhilarating trait. Fred and I were not close friends, but very close allies in the often tortuous struggle to help empower our people. I miss him already.
Larry Aubry can be contacted at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org