Dubbed the “Black Greenwich Village” by the late filmmaker John Singleton, the historic neighborhood of Leimert Park is widely regarded as the cultural hub for African Americans in LA. Leimert Park was the brainchild of developer Walter H. Leimert, who began the subdivision business center project in 1928.
One of the first planned communities in Southern California designed for upper and middle class families, Leimert Park was considered a model of urban planning - car traffic near schools and churches was minimized, utility wires were buried or hidden from view, and trees lined the streets.
Potential homeowners were attracted by the community's state-of-the-art design features and meticulously manicured lots. Over the following decades, the 230-acre plot of land grew more diverse and became known for its hip-hop scene, poetry jam nights and authentic Afro-Caribbean cuisine. Famous Leimert Park residents include legendary musicians Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles, and former LA Mayor Tom Bradley.
Leimert Park Art Walk
The Leimert Park Art Walk takes place on the last Sunday of the month along the streets of 43rd Place and Degnan Boulevard. Launched in the summer of 2010, this free event features an array of entertainment and activities the whole family will enjoy. Throughout the day, cultural spaces such as KAOS Network, Vision Theatre, the World Stage, artist studios and storefronts will share art exhibitions, fashion, food, and local artisans. The festive event includes DJs, spoken word and the legendary drum circle.
Art + Practice
Founded by artist Mark Bradford, philanthropist and collector Eileen Harris Norton, and community activist Allan DiCastro, Art + Practice (A+P) is a nonprofit foundation based in Leimert Park Village. A+P supports the needs of South L.A. foster youth and provides the community with access to museum-curated contemporary art. A+P presents its programs and activities from a 20,000 square-foot campus that includes an Exhibition Space, Public Programs, and the Foster Youth Practice Space.
With the closing of Eso Won Books, Malik Books, located in the nearby Baldwin Hills Crenshaw shopping center, offers the community's best option for an African American literary destination. A second store is located at Westfield Culver City. Malik's specializes in books, African American calendars, and African American gifts with an emphasis on cultural diversity.
Malik's Bookmobile is a trailer filled with books to inspire, uplift and educate. The Bookmobile is available as a mobile book fair for local schools, churches and festivals.
Ben Caldwell founded the acclaimed community media lab, KAOS Network in 1990. Since then the institution has garnered a worldwide reputation with its signature program, Project Blowed. Held on Thursday nights at KAOS Network, Project Blowed was co-founded in 1994 by Aceyalone and Abstract Rude, and is renowned as the longest running open mic youth workshop in the world. Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Lenny Kravitz have reportedly attended sessions.
Leimert Plaza Park
Much more than a neighborhood park, Leimert Plaza Park has also been the site for decades of cultural celebrations, community gatherings and a vital space for African Americans to raise their voices together in protest. The famed drum circle takes place at the park every Sunday, including the monthly Art Walk.
Located at the south end of Leimert Park Village, the Vision Theatre is an Art Deco gem that first opened as the Leimert Theatre in April 1932. The movie palace was designed in the Spanish Colonial style by Morgan, Walls & Clements, the architectural firm responsible for some of L.A.'s most famous and historic venues, including The Mayan, Belasco Theatre, The Wiltern, The Fonda, and El Capitan. Operated by the City of L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs, the landmark theatre recently emerged from a multi-million dollar renovation and continues to provide a performing arts venue for the diverse cultural talent of the Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills communities.
The World Stage
The World Stage was founded in 1989 by the late legendary jazz drummer, Billy Higgins and poet and community arts activist, Kamau Daáood. Affectionately known locally as simply "The Stage," the educational and performance arts gallery has a capacity of 100, with a full schedule of affordable weekly workshops and ticketed performances from a range of renowned artists. Offerings include Monday’s Drum Workshop for children of all ages, Tuesday’s Jazz Vocal Workshop and Vocal Jam, Wednesday’s Anansi Writer’s Workshop, Thursday’s Women’s African Drum Circle and Jazz Jam Session, Saturday’s Jazz Workshop, and Sunday’s Woodwind Workshop, Roots First Global History of Rhythm Class, and Sisters of Jazz Jam Session. Performances usually take place on Fridays and Saturdays - check The World Stage calendar for updated events.
Leimert Park Jazz Festival
What started as a neighborhood block party in 2015 has grown into one of LA’s premier summertime music events. Executive Producer Diane Robertson realized there were plentiful jazz concerts across LA and wonderful cultural and music events in Leimert Park, but not a core eponymous jazz festival in the historic neighborhood. After three years of producing the Sutro Avenue Summer Soirée, she approached her friend Dwight Trible, the internationally renowned jazz vocalist and Executive Director of The World Stage, about curating a jazz stage at the event. He agreed, and the jazz stage was introduced in 2018 and enthusiastically received by attendees. The event was rebranded as the Leimert Park Jazz Festival in 2020.
Metro K Line: Leimert Park Station
Named for the national fruit of Jamaica, Ackee Bamboo is a lively spot with mint green walls and about a dozen tables. You order at the counter and food is delivered to the table. Priced at $11.95, the popular daily specials include curry chicken (Tuesday & Saturday) and the ridiculously tender jerk chicken (Thursday & Sunday). All plates are served with rice & peas, steamed vegetables, plantains and festival bread. Sub callaloo (greens) for $3. Pro tip: if you’re dining with a friend, make your plate a combo (add extra chicken, meat or seafood) and share.
Dulan's On Crenshaw
Dulan's On Crenshaw is a casual restaurant that serves generous portions of soul food in takeout boxes. Lunch includes a choice of entree, two sides and a cornbread muffin - dinner adds an extra side. The Sunday Dinner ($19.45) includes one entree, choice of rice & gravy or cornbread dressing, choice of two sides, dessert and sweet tea or lemonade. Feed the whole group with the Family Special for $29.95: one whole chicken (8 pieces), three large sides, four cornbread muffins. Add Smothered Chicken for a few extra bucks.
Earle's On Crenshaw
Brothers Duane and Cary Earle started with a hot dog cart and have since grown into a thriving restaurant in the heart of the Crenshaw District. Formerly known as Earlez Grille, Earle's On Crenshaw serves gourmet hot dogs with the motto: "Not fast food. It's good food fast." Earle's offers a variety of options, from spicy beef to turkey, kosher and vegan. Load your dog with included toppings, or add extras like chili (beef or vegan), cheese and New York style onions. Don't miss the gloriously messy chili cheese fries, available beef or vegan. Daily hot dog specials include Turkey Tuesday ($2.49), Vegan Wednesday ($4.99) and the Beef Dog Special on Saturdays ($3.49)..