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2021 Black History Ride: Expo Park-West Athens-Inglewood Loop

Overview

By no means a comprehensive telling of Black History in Los Angeles, our 2021 Black History Ride is a 22.2 mile ride that starts in Expo Park, heads South to Westmont, then makes its way back via Avalon Blvd.

The stops along this route include South LA Cafe, Eso Won Books/Ride On! Bike Co-op and other businesses in Leimert Park Plaza, Vincent Park, the site of Dijon Kizzee's death last year, the South LA Wetlands Park and the California African American Museum. Pack your own toilet paper for the porta potty at the South LA Wetlands.

While this route's side streets make it pretty pleasant they present one big drawback - sensors won't read you on a bike. This means you'll have to push the walk button or maybe you'll get "lucky" and have a car set the sensor off to get you the green light.

As with any ride, keep an eye out for potholes, cracks and road repairs gone wrong. Feel free to report any issues you encounter while on the road to 311. Thank you for choosing LACBC's self-guided rides. As always, feel free to provide any feedback or suggestions to us at info@la-bike.org.


Expo & Vermont

Our ride begins here at the corner of Exposition Blvd and Vermont Ave. Whether you arrived here by bike, train, bus, or you parked somewhere nearby, welcome! From here our route heads west along Exposition then makes a left on Denker.


In 1.5 miles, you'll be at our first stop, South LA Cafe. South LA Cafe is a community coffee shop, market, and cultural center. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00am-1:00pm. If your ride happens to coincide with their operating hours and you could use a coffee or snack for the road, now would be a good time to call your order in at 213-260-0633. Check out their website at southlacafe.com to see their menu.


At a steady pace, you'll arrive at South LA Cafe in about 10 minutes.


South LA Cafe

South LA Cafe is a coffee shop that offers healthy & affordable options while serving as a cultural hub for South Central Los Angeles. Stop in to check out their merch and their food.

The cafe also offers people an opportunity to become a regular supporter by making a one-time donation, signing up as a monthly member or sponsoring a grocery box delivered to a local familiy in need. Check out their website to learn more!


From here to our next stop, Leimert Park, is another 1.6 miles, so about another 10 minutes.


Eso Won Books, Ride On! Bike Co-op & more

You've arrived at Leimert Park Plaza. Leimert Park has long been a hub for Black culture and history in Los Angeles. The architecture and street design are full of meaning and symbolism.

There are a variety of independent businesses here that you can support.

The street that stretches north from the middle of the plaza is Degnan Blvd. Our route follows this street north then heads west along 43rd Street. Before heading out again, stop by and support some of the businesses that serve this community and let them know that #bikesmeanbusiness.


Eso Won Books is an Independent and Black-Owned bookshop that has served the community for over 30 years. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00pm-4:00pm. Shop co-owner James Fugate gave LACBC some relevant book recommendations that you can purchase here at the store:

  • Bicycle / Race: Transportation, Culture, and Resistance by Adonia Lugo

  • Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights by Gretchen Sorin

  • Life is God’s Best Gift: Wisdom from the Ancestors on Finding Peace and Joy in Today’s World by Sam Chege

  • The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Dierdre Mask

You can also order online:

Ride On! Bike Shop/Co-Op is also located here. Stop by and ask about their e-bike sales and rentals! Ackee Bamboo and Hot and Cool Cafe are close by, should you need a snack or a refreshing drink.


Our next stop, Edward Vincent Jr Park & the Centinela Springs is in 3.3 miles. Should take about 20 minutes. There are restrooms at Vincent Park.


Edward Vincent Jr Park & the Centinela Springs

You've arrived at Edward Vincent Jr Park, which is also the location of the Centinela Springs.

This park is named after Edward Vincent, a local politician who was Inglewood's first Black mayor. Throughout his career, he served in the state Assembly, the state Senate, the local city council, and the local school board.

This park also hosts The Willie Agee Playhouse. Known as Mr. Inglewood, Willie Agee was considered Inglewood's most vocal ambassador. He passed away last year.

In addition to recognizing influential figures in the recent past and present, this site is one of ancient significance. A monument explains that this is the site of a natural spring dating back to the Pleistocene era. Not much water seems to flow now, since recent water management practices prevent a lot of rainwater from recharging ancient aquifers.

This is a good spot to have a snack and bathroom break. After this, we're riding for about 6 miles before arriving at 109th Street in Westmont - the site of Dijon Kizzee's death. This should take you about 30 minutes. Please take note that the next restroom along this stop - a porta potty - is at South LA Wetlands Park, about 12 miles away (about an hour without stopping).


109th & Budlong

Dijon Kizzee was riding his bike against the flow of traffic on Budlong when he was spotted by Sheriff's Deputies on Monday, August 31, 2020. Dijon dropped his bike and made a left at 109th Place, and soon after sheriff's deputies caught up with him and shot him 15 times.

At a press conference following Kizzee's death, Captain Kent Wegener made claims that contradicted video footage. Captain Wegener claimed Kizzee picked up a gun after struggling with one officer and pointed the gun at both deputies, which prompted them to open fire.

Videos provided by the Sheriff's department don't show Kizzee ever lifting his arm to point a gun at either deputy.

South Los Angeles Wetlands Park

You've arrived at South Los Angeles Wetlands Park. This is a good spot to take a break and admire the mural of Maya Angelou located at Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School. A poet, memoirist and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou continues to be a source of inspiration for many who aspire for a more just world.

This is our second to last stop. Three miles to go (about 20 minutes) and we'll be back at Expo Park. Our last stop is the California African American Museum. From there, you're just a few turns away from our starting point at the corner of Vermont and Expo.

Once you're enjoying the urban oasis of the Wetlands Park, exit the same you entered, walking your bike along the west side of the sidewalk, across the crosswalk, then position yourself in the bike lane heading north along Avalon.


Expo Park & the California African American Museum

Expo Park played a huge role during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Martin Luther King Jr spoke here several times, and on February 18, 1968, the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party was announced at the LA Sports Arena at a Free Huey Rally.

The California African American Museum is currently closed due to COVID-19.

According to its website, this museum was founded in 1977 and "was a direct result of a sustained, multiyear campaign of activism...Its creation was an early and tangible recognition by the State of California of the critically important role African Americans have played in the American West's cultural, economic, and political development."


In a recent KCRW interview, Peniel Joseph, historian and professor at the University of Texas at Austin said, "We are never getting justice on schedule...The only way we're gonna get change is if we have the fierce urgency of now...There's no correct slogan...We have to force the change that we know is the morally and politically correct thing to do right here, right now."


From here, head north then use State Drive to cut through the park heading west. Follow the paved pathway west (slowly, as this stretch is shared with pedestrians), and you'll hit Bill Robertson Lane.

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