Back in the 1960’s, before I was thought of, Dorothy Randle and her big sister Willie Mae Randle purchased a house on the east side of Inglewood. When they moved in with two growing boys in tow, I am sure they felt they had arrived. Long gone were the days of the Jim Crow South they fled in search of the “good life” in California. Shreveport, Louisiana was too small for their dreams. Inglewood was a suburb of Los Angeles where growing black families could purchase homes. When she married my father in the living room of their home, the dream was almost complete. The large three-bedroom home had plenty room to expand the family. Large lots, fruit and nut trees, squirrels and lots of families filled the area. As the families moved in, the other families rapidly left the neighborhood. In five short years, a predominantly White neighborhood became a predominantly Black neighborhood.
Inglewood was an amazing place to grow up. I remember going to Centinela Park pre-school. I had a variety of friends. My teacher was sweet to us and treated us like gold. Back then, downtown Inglewood had big box stores like JC Penny, Newberry’s, the Boston Store, and Sears. The Gas Company, Pacific Bell and several other major companies were downtown Inglewood. As matter of fact, the old Pacific Bell building remains empty 30 years later. I attended Inglewood Christian School. Many of the local residents, sent their children to local private Christian and Catholic schools. Inglewood was the place to be for working middle-class families. Our street was filled with children, we played day and night. We knew everyone on our block and they knew us too.
Amazingly, just as fast as things started looking up for Inglewood, the economy, crime and what has now been labeled “white flight” took our beloved city in the wrong direction. When big business shut down or relocated to other parts of the state or country. The residents of Inglewood suffered. Poor leadership and mismanagement destroyed what so many worked so diligently to achieve. A city known for being champions, quickly became what some considered the “hood”. Gangs started to grow, the crack epidemic hit the community hard and many families lost what they had worked so hard for, “the American Dream”.
I have lived here through it all. You see, I am a native. I was born in Centinela Hospital. I have climbed most of the trees on 78th Street from Van Ness to 8th Ave. I have splashed in the wading pool at Darby Park. I have cried for my lost family members and friends at Inglewood Park Cemetery. I have cheered for Morningside in the bleachers at Sentinel field and the Morningside gymnasium. I was in the Forum when Prince played for $25 to sold out crowds. I was at the victory rally when the Lakers finally defeated the Boston Celtics. I stood in front of my apartment and watch the space shuttle go down Crenshaw Drive. I would hate for there to be a day when I can no longer enjoy everything Inglewood has been to me and my family.
My name is Yolanda Davidson and I am a potential candidate for Inglewood City Council District One. I love my city for the good, the challenging and the potential she has. I will fight to see my children and one day grandchildren see the dream my Mother and Aunt had when they moved here over 55 years ago. Morningside Park is the first area Blacks were allowed to live in Inglewood. My brother integrated Inglewood High. Morningside Park is the last predominantly Black neighborhood in Los Angeles County. I will fight to keep the legacy of the first-time homeowners who were fortunate enough to discover this enclave of California sun and breeze. I love Inglewood for all she is and all she will grow to be.