It has been 25 years since Los Angeles literally went up in flames. It was a horrific scene—buildings on fire, sounds of windows breaking and sirens from emergency vehicles, and people shouting “No Justice, No Peace.”
The all-white jury in the Rodney King case returned with a verdict of not guilty, acquitting four white LAPD officers of excessive force. The date was April 29, 1992. By now, the videotape of King, lying on the ground while cops beat him until he was nearly unrecognizable, had been played so many times on television that the wedge between cops and L.A.s black community had grown even wider. The relationship was never ideal.
Today, it is a painful reminder that so much work still needs to be done to improve relations between police and communities of color.
The Rodney King verdict, which set off 6 days of rioting, was the epicenter of racial tension, ignited by years of frustration. It was the public demonstration of subtler forms of racism that had been brewing below the surface. There was rampant racial discrimination and inequality in lending, employment, education and business. And the dismissal of the officers, whose rage was undeniable in the video, was a metaphor for how White America so often dismisses black folks.
I remember one young lady saying, “We don’t exist for them. They want me to pretend I didn’t see what I saw.”
In the early 1990s, my company published an advertising supplement for Inglewood businesses. But the focus soon shifted after the riots. The undeniable injustice of the verdict underscored injustice everywhere. And one of the most glaring examples was the way the black community was presented by mainstream media. As I began to wake up to the need for reporting that was fair, balanced and positive, I was encouraged to start a city magazine that would help change the narrative.
Contrary to what mainstream media would have you believe, Inglewood was not the headquarters for thugs. I was not content to have folks define the city as a dark, impoverished, gang infested place that people had to pass on their way to the airport. It had been named the “City of Champions,” and in my mind, that slogan had as much to do with the hard working, law abiding citizens of Inglewood, as the Showtime Lakers.
In June 1994, the first edition of Inglewood Today magazine hit the streets. The cover featured then-Mayor Edward Vincent trying his luck at the Hollywood Park Casino. In 2003, the monthly magazine became a weekly newspaper, and InglewoodToday.com soon followed.
Fast forwarding until today, we find the progress experienced by Inglewood Today over the last 23 years just as amazing as the city whose praises we sing. We take pride in the role we have played in bringing accurate, balanced news about those who live and work here, being a voice for the Inglewood community, providing a platform for those who would not otherwise have one.
From the ashes of the 1992 L.A. Riots, to becoming the “official newspaper” of a minority-led city with multi- billion dollar investments, Inglewood Today is both proud and humbled to have played in part in changing the media landscape.