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The Fight To Keep Los Angeles’ Largest Black-Owned Market Open
Longstanding Black-owned market vendors in Leimert Park have become generous contributors to the greater South Los Angeles area. Many Black residents have thrived off of the customer foot traffic that has been involved in establishing the sense of community in the area.
Neighboring predominantly Black communities of Baldwin Hills, Exposition Park, Crenshaw, and Jefferson Park all benefit off of the weekly Sunday African Market Place that is held in Leimert Park Village.
The African Market Place and Drum Circle Farmers Market are special Black-owned markets and weekend events that draw in many Black locals of the Los Angeles area. There you can find traditional remedies, clothing, African Diaspora art, and any other miscellaneous home goods that are provided by many vendors of African descent. Both markets have been in operation within the Leimert Park area for decades, and are now at risk of being completely shut down by Los Angeles City Council member, Mark Ridley Thomas.
Mark Ridley Thomas and his office are looking to revoke street vendor and farmer’s market permits from the Black vendors. There has been a huge community pushback from many residents and families that are strongly advocating against this change, and are organizing efforts to reject the Los Angeles City Council member’s actions.
Model and actress Eva Marcille recently spoke out against the closure as well. She took to social media to share her opposition.
“Today, we were told that the farmer’s permit was revoked by the city because we did not meet certain LAPD and LAFD safety requirements. However, I received receipts from LAPD and LAFD. Currently, it is said that the permit is still revoked just because Mark Ridley Thomas’ office can revoke the permit. There’s no reason … except for plans to replace the black-founded and black-owned farmers market with a white non-profit farmer’s market that already runs six markets. They bring their own vendors and force most, if not all, of our black vendors who have been in Raymart Park Village for decades. Stand in the African Marketplace and Drum Circles to help secure this space.”
For some, the African Market Place has been a place of great opportunity for Black family-owned businesses and this weekly community event is the largest Black-founded and owned marketplace in Los Angeles that still stands.
The City Council member is looking to replace the African World Market with a more commercial nonprofit organization that would force the Black vendors out of business. Throughout Los Angeles this is happening in more-gentrified communities such as Culver City, where there used to be a large marketplace until city officials told POC vendors that their permits were no longer valid and had to be revoked.
Leimert Park is one of the few cities in Los Angeles County where the Black community isn’t outnumbered and there still is a rich sense of community through the community engagements, citywide events, mom & pop shops, and donated resources that are distributed.
Now, if these economic opportunities are stolen from the Black vendors who built Leimert Park into the vibrant city it is today, there will be an even larger sense of displacement and the financial wealth gap in Los Angeles will continue to grow.