The Great 9th, as the former cotton-picker and City Hall janitor who became Los Angeles’s first African American City Council member called it, is losing its position as a hub of black political power. The LA Times reports:
Two generations [after Lindsay], with the seat open and the March 5 election approaching, the area that gave birth to historic South Central Avenue and the city’s black middle-class culture has a far different political landscape. It is nearly 80% Latino. Tiendas and carnicerias line its boulevards. And for the first time since the hard-fought gains of the civil rights movement, voters in the coming months could elect a council member who is not black.
Across Los Angeles, black political power is on the wane as Spanish-speaking migrants displace native blacks in large swatches of the city. You can see photos of the Great 9th as it was in Lindsay’s time and as it is today in this photo series.
The ebb and flow of political power among racial and ethnic groups is one of the constants in American history. There was a time when African Americans coming up to the northern cities from the South were the new kids on the block; now, like other groups before them, they are moving out to the suburbs and being challenged on their old turf in the cities.
Given that Asia has now passed Latin America as the largest source for new immigrants, the Hispanics in Los Angeles will likely also wake up some day to discover that neighborhoods they once thought of as ‘theirs’ have been occupied by newcomers.