My name is Barbara Lott-Holland and I am the Associate director of the Labor Community Strategy Center. As this is our annual end-of-the-year fundraising letter I am asking you to help us raise $100,000 by giving as generously as you can.
Last year we had our grand opening of Strategy Soul at King and Crenshaw. We have had several events including a three-day 18 hours a day film party for the volunteers of the Pan African Film Festival led by Ayuko Baba and Asantwa Olatunji and we plan to do it even better in 2018.
In the summer of 2017 Channing Martinez and I were the lead organizers of our first HBCU Summer Internship program. I supervised India Tate from Moss Point, Mississippi and Tugaloo College in Jackson, Mouzon Henderson from Nashville Tennessee and Florida A&M, and Ariana McArthur from Mobile, Alabama and Dillard University in New Orleans.
Our weekly routine meant being on the trains sometimes as early as 8:30am until 12:30pm and by noon my body was tired and ready for rest. We organized on the Blue Line starting at Crenshaw/Exposition to Downtown 7th and Metro to the Watts 103 St Station, Florence Station, Rosa Park Station to Compton Station and traveling back we organized on the Green Line Rosa Park Station. I was a tough supervisor and they responded well understanding the urgency of the work to get surveys of train passengers and legal declarants as we move forward in our latest civil rights suit against the MTA for its attacks on Black riders. Can you imagine that the MTA, with a budget of $7 billion, is treating “fare evasion” and even “fare collection” as a military operation and giving out tickets and arrests—60 percent of which are against Black passengers who are only 20 percent of the riders.
We were able to collect over 120 surveys and 200 postcards from Black passengers who shared their experiences of harassment and humiliation by law enforcement while riding the rail while Black. They spoke of constant stop and frisk, being handcuffed, searched, and often arrested all due to inability to afford to pay the full fare and sometimes just unable to find their tap card that they had already paid for.
I live on 60th and Crenshaw in South Los Angeles and I am working with Davilla Davis and the OAISIS Club for seniors where they have weekly yoga and nutrition classes and even French classes, Cliff Rosemond and the Leimert Stakeholders focusing on the homeless population and avoiding police solutions, Marian Thomas and the Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance are prioritizing funding for the 50 most at-need schools in South LA including Manual Arts, Horace Mann, and Augustus Hawkins. It is heartbreaking that the Black population of Los Angeles, once at 750,000 is now down to 350,000 because of mass unemployment, the driving of Blacks out of the workforce, perpetual police occupation, and gentrification.
I am so happy that we are building Strategy and Soul as a 4 storefront Movement Center in South L.A. with our own Film Theater, bookstore, community organizing center, and Strategy and Soul Food. Now we have just purchased The Crenshaw House but need your help to build out new spaces for study halls for student organizers, and classes on gardening, theater, creative writing, and of course revolutionary organizing. I am growing as a leader and need your help to expand my and our work for a better society.
Please give generously.