The Story of a Black Man Who Wanted to Ride to the Library

Op-Ed: L.A.’s history of Latino-Black political conflict? It’s a curiously short tale

Updated 11:21 pm, Tuesday, July 6, 2013


In the fall of 2011, when Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was just three months old, in the town of El Segundo, a young, African-American man sat on a curb, hoping to catch a ride downtown.

The only woman in the group, she had a big black man draped over her shoulder, and two small children. And she was asking for a cab, because she didn’t have enough money.

The driver took the five white people upstairs to his trunk and told them they were lucky — his back seat was already filled with African Americans waiting to apply for a ride.

The young man, who was waiting for a ride after giving his grandmother a ride, was not given a ride. A few weeks later, a man walked into the library in the same black, working-class, working-class neighborhood on El Segundo Street, and asked “Is there a way that I can get a ride to the library?”

One of the library’s staff members had never been asked to help a white person get a ride, but in the next few days, a man with a driver’s license had been given one ride by three white people as part of the “L.A. Is Burning” campaign.

The library had not provided the rides, and after the campaign ended, the driver’s license was withdrawn. The man who asked for the rides could not pay for the cab ride, and instead was asked if he would like to join the campaign as a volunteer. He agreed.

The first time he agreed to join a campaign was in the fall of 2009 with another black man in that same neighborhood, whose name was Michael Brown. The year before, he had asked the same man for a ride.

The driver took him to the library, and he sat down in

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