Elias Wondimu, Elana M. Bove, Shona Buchanan and LA County Supervisor MarkRidley Thomas

*Los Angeles – Several hundred people gathering in Leimert Park Village in front of the iconic Vision Theater, Saturday, October 14, 2017.

The diverse crowd gathered on this beautiful day in Southern California to celebrate the first book launch from TSEHAI’s imprint, the Harriet Tubman Press: Voices from Leimert Park Redux: a Los Angeles Poetry Anthology.

This day also celebrated TSEHAI’s 20th Anniversary as well as it’s 10th Anniversary on the campus of Loyola Marymount University. The event also celebrated the advent of the Harriet Tubman Press.

Voices from Leimert Park Redux: A Los Angeles Poetry anthology is a symphony of diverse voices echoing the collective heartbeat of a community. In 2006, Voices from Leimert Park revealed one of the best kept secrets of the Los Angeles literary scene: African-American and other writers of color were producing nationally known and respected poetry, fiction, and non-fiction with the Leimert Park literary community.

Voices from Leimert from Leimert Park Redux embraces radical new voices, and melds them with the well-seasoned tonality of Griots at home, on the street corners, and in libraries. As you listen to the Voices from Leimert Park Redux, you will realize that you have just entered that safe familiar place where truth is still being created with every honest breath.

The program got under way with the smooth sounds provided by The Supa Lowery Brothers. The crowd were swaying and jamming along to their sets in between panel discussions. Barbara Morrison surprised everyone and joined the band for a tune. The various tunes performed throughout the afternoon were “Little Sunflower,” by Freddie Hubbard, “Mr. Magic,” by Grover Washington Jr., “Hotline Bling,” by Drake, “My Way,” by Fetty Wap, and took us on a journey with “Caravan.”

Kevin Nash served as Master of Ceremony. Dr. Elana M. Bove, Senior Vice President of Student Affairs, welcomed the crowd on behalf of Loyola Marymount University.

There was several powerful, informative panels in keeping with the occasion. Rep. Karen Bass, Elias Wondimu and Shonda Buchanan were on the first panel entitled “The Power of a Press.” This panel was moderated by Angela Rye, political commentator on CNN and an NPR political analyst.

The Poetry interlude featured spoken word performances from poets of Voices from Leimert Park Redux. The poets who performed were V. Kali reciting “[Clandestine] Cultural Affairs.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get the title of the wonderful poems recited by October BLU or that of Wyatt Underwood. Peter J. Harris recited “It’s Hard Being a Hummingbird.”

Sup. Mark Ridley Thomas, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and Robert Helen Singleton were on the panel “Our Voices are Stronger Together in a conversation with Angela Rye. The Singletons spoke briefly about the early years of being involved with the Freedom Riders.

The next panel was dynamic with an equally dynamic group of speakers entitled “Coming Together on Social Justice Issues.” The panel consisted of Rev. Kelvin Sauls, Holman United Methodist Church, Umar A. Hakim, Executive Director of the Intellect Love Mercy Foundation, Mr. Roland Martin, Commentator for TV One and the host of News One Now, a one-hour weekday morning news show on TV One.

The program concluded with spoken word performances by D Hideo Maruyama, followed by Nailah Porter. The organizers thanked everyone for staying to the very end. Meet and greet with the poets for book signing and additional tunes by The Supa Lowery Brothers closed out this historic occasion in Leimert Park.

Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]