A hurricane coming to L.A.?! Yup.

Plus, how L.A.'s Black church is emblematic of the area's diversity

Hey, y’all! I’m back from vacation and settled back in Los Angeles. I’m busy enjoying these last precious weeks of summer…and preparing for the hurricane headed to L.A. (I didn’t see that one popping up on my Bingo card.)

Now that Insecure is on Netflix, I’ve been noting all the local spots from the show to check out. (I know Insecure isn’t a new show, but don’t hate on me catching up, alright?) Right now, my favorite haunt is Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen - Inglewood.

One of my favorite parts of living in L.A. is being a part of so much diversity. There are so many different ways that people celebrate their heritage and cultural traditions. Our featured story this week is all about how Angelenos worship and the role played by Black church, past and present.


Btw…Issa Rae is an investor in this popular Black-owned business. If you, too, would like to invest in a local gem, consider a one-time or recurring donation to AfroLA today.


by Ural Garrett

What is the “Black church?” A building, a religion, worshippers…?

Technically, the Black church refers to congregants of seven historic independent African American Protestant denominations. But, in Los Angeles especially, the Black church is more than religion. It’s a community for Black Angelenos who have historically faced discrimination and oppression to come together and worship in solidarity. In addition to holding services, Black churches provide critical resources for the community, such as emergency funding, education and a voice on the political stage.

Author Ural Garrett highlights the role and rich history of the Black Church through the lens of his personal experiences.

Harmony Missionary Baptist Church is one of several Black places of worship in the Central Avenue corridor where Ural’s mom settled in the 1970s. HMBC is located just a few minutes from the family’s old apartment. Like many other Black transplants to L.A. from the South, she found community and solace in her church.

Author Ural Garrett (front center), in the mid-1990s, pictured with his mother, Mary Ann Holmes (far left), and other Harmony Missionary Baptist Church members who helped care for him growing up in South Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy Ural Garrett)

The Central Avenue corridor was 70% Black when HMBC opened its doors in 1942. Many of these Black residents settled in L.A. during the Second Great Migration, when more than 5 million Blacks fled Southern states to escape racial oppression and seek better economic opportunities. Civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. were able to inspire and uplift the Black communities during important speeches given at local churches.

Black Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and more worship according to different religious traditions, but they’re united in supporting Black prosperity and liberation.

For example, St. Odilia Catholic Church was the “mother church” for Blacks who migrated to L.A. following World War II for good-paying jobs in the defense industry. Livelier music and preaching were characteristic of the parishes that welcomed these Blacks who settled in South and Central Los Angeles.

“The most powerful thing that was common interest was injustice. It wasn’t an idea of resolution and wasn’t a revolutionary idea,” explained Masjid Bilal Islamic Center founder, Imam Abdul-Karim Hasan. “We could evolve out of [injustice and oppression]. It was about doing something for ourselves to start building up our community instead of living there until it falls down on us, and we have to move.”

Read the full story for more on how the Black church is enmeshed in the fabric of Los Angeles.


by Farajii Muhammad

A Black Lives Matter Turns 10 event-goer waves a Juneteenth flag near Degnan Boulevard in Leimert Park on July 15, 2023. (Farajii Muhammad/AfroLA)

“Black existence is not by happenstance. Black Lives Matter is not by coincidence. We should embrace and celebrate BLM as an important advocate for our daily survival.”

by Ethan Ward

Homecoming Project graduate KC Mathews (left) with former host Terri Brown. (Credit: Barbara Kinney/Emerson Collective)

Can’t we just build more housing? Yes, but….no? New housing has to be built densely to maximize available land—which is pricey. The costs of new construction continue to rise and building from scratch takes time.

“The homelessness sector alone can’t solve this issue,” said Saba Mwine, managing director of USC’s Homelessness Policy Research Institute. “Shared housing models can be a great way to facilitate a built-in community such as housing older adults, a rapidly growing homelessness population alongside young adults.”

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