It goes without saying that in the realm of the present-day reality, the first thing that comes to one’s mind when hearing “Los Angeles” is “Hollywood” and “movie industry”; the numerous landmarks come in a close second.
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However, despite the fact that at present, the city is basking in the glory of its famous movie-making monster, there are a lot of historical facts about the city which are worth paying closer attention to. Because of the events which took place in Los Angeles at the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century, the development of the African American communities all over the USA has been boosted, while the rates of discrimination against the Black population began to cease.
The history of Los Angeles is long and complicated, and the best way to deal with the plethora of facts is to consider the article by Rick Moss, Not Quite Paradise: The Development of the African American Community in Los Angeles through 1950. Written 46 years after the date which the author has chosen as the starting point of his research, the paper reveals a lot about the history of Los Angeles and gives a lot of food for thoughts.
One of the first ideas that cross one’s mind after reading the article is that the development of the state was actually started with the settlement of the Black people and the establishment of the African American community, which is quite impressive, given the time-lapse and the policies towards the Black people at the end of the XIX century. According to Moss, the African people have been the residents of Los Angeles since the “beginning with the Spanish exploration and settlement of Alta California from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries” (222).
Therefore, the article allows to consider the establishment of the African American community in the American society, or, to be more exact, the Californian society, as well as the role of the Black community in America’s social and political life. For instance, Moss emphasizes the role which Pio Pico played in the history of California: “Born in the Mission San Gabriel in 1801, Pio Pico grew to become a prominent Mexican citizen in the years before and after the American occupation.” (Moss 224).
It seems that without Pio Pico, the African American community would have never become so much integrated: “From 1845 to 1846 he served as the last Mexican governor of California. Under U.S. rule, Pico served on the Los Angeles city council” (Moss 224). Even though it is nowadays doubted that Pio Pico was of African American descent, it is still clear that he managed to revolutionize the society’s perception of the African people, making it clear that the Blacks had the same rights as the white population, including the right to work and earn salary: “Pio Pico invited one hundred African Americans to work as waiters at the Pico House in downtown Los Angeles” (Moss 227).
All in all, the paper offers a detailed account of Pio Pico’s activity, making it clear that the Africans have contributed to the history of the United States in general and to the history of Los Angeles in particular as much as the rest of the U. S. population did. The above-mentioned makes one re-evaluate the impact which people of different race have had on the U. S. history, as well as the impact that a community can possibly have on a certain state. It seems that disregarding the restrictions imposed on a certain community by an unfair law or discrimination, the above-mentioned community can still have an impressive impact on the state and its political events.
In connection with the above-mentioned, it is necessary to refer to the issues of slavery and racial discrimination, which Moss also deals with. Weirdly enough, though being a Southern state and, therefore, supposedly having more issues with offering the Black people freedom and independence, California seemed to have made major progress in providing the African American people with their constitutional rights.
According to what Moss says, Los Angeles soon became a synonym for paradise for most African American population: “The image of California as paradise was reinforced in the minds of thousands of wide-eyed southern blacks by the testimonials of returning soldiers, advertising promotions of the citrus industry, and reports in the black press” (Moss 228). The above-mentioned makes it obvious that with the help of the efforts made by the Californian abolitionists, both Black and white, the people of color managed to become an integral part of the American society, and fully equal with the rest of the American population at that.
It was rather surprising to learn, however, that life in California for the Black population was not a bed of roses either. Though one might have thought that with all the above-mentioned developments and the progress made, the Blacks should have been respected fully in California, the law known as The Fugitive Slave Law certified the opposite: “According to this law, any slaves who had entered the state before 1849 who refused to return with their masters to their state of origin could be thrown into prison” (Moss 225). Nevertheless, it is still true that the achievements of the African Americans in Los Angeles were incredible, starting with the Convention of Colored Citizens and up to Biddy Mason’s needs.
Another peculiar issue which makes a great case for a discussion is the idea that the settlement processes concerned also the Mexican residents of Los Angeles. Since, as Moss claims, the Mexicans and the Spanish made a great chunk of the California population: “the amount of African blood circulating in the general Mexican population was significant” (Moss 223), they must have had a huge impact on the African American culture. Hence, it can be assumed that the culture of the current African American population in Los Angeles owes a lot to the Spanish and Mexican culture.
Thus, it can be considered that the African American communities all over the USA owe a lot to the people who lived once in Los Angeles, California. Even though it cannot be doubted that the USA would have sooner or later come to the idea of democracy and equal rights being given not only to the white population but also to the African American diaspora, it is still obvious that the events in Los Angeles contributed to the above-mentioned process considerably. Such residents of Los Angeles as Moore and Pio Pico will always stay in the memory of the USA, reminding people of the enduring values.
Moss, Rick 1996. Not Quite Paradise: The Development of the African American Community in Los Angeles through 1950. PDF file.