The President’s Story of Being Black in Los Angeles

Op-Ed: L.A.’s history of Latino-Black political conflict? It’s a curiously short tale of the kind that often ends with the end of the story, a sad tale of a community that has grown so much that it can’t deal with its own history anymore. When the Los Angeles Police Department was at the forefront of civil rights movement in the 1960s, a young, black L.A. cop had a life-altering story about how he had been arrested by police. In the article, he writes, “I was a young black man. My life was changed forever by the LAPD’s willingness to arrest me and send me to jail for four days for the crime of being black in Los Angeles on a Monday night.” While the original account contains some errors and omissions, it’s a powerful piece of work from a young man who, despite the pain, is now a civil rights activist.

“I never got to tell the story the way I wanted to because I got locked up,” he told the Independent.

“The police arrested me. They put me in the back of a police car and threw me in with other black people who had committed other crimes,” he said. “I got thrown in jail for four days,” he said. “Because I was black. I was in jail for being black in Los Angeles on a Monday night in the summer, when the whole city was celebrating the holiday.”

Though the original story seems to be embellished, its message is one that many of us have heard over and over again. That’s the same message that President Obama is giving about his own life, the legacy he wants to leave, and the American dream he lives—with some help from the U.N.

When I first moved to Los Angeles from Texas, I was struck by how the city seemed to be an unspoken and unspoken-until-I-moved-here kind of place. It wasn’t like that when I arrived in the city, and for many years I wasn’t quite sure why. I was in my early 20s already, working at a job that I hated with a passion, a job I hated because it made me feel so unwell

Leave a Comment