Los Angeles reached a benchmark half a century ago when the City Council’s first African American was appointed to represent the area then known as South Central.
Gilbert Lindsay, a former cotton field worker and city janitor, was chosen in 1963 to fill a vacant seat in the 9th Council District, which covered part of South Los Angeles. The appointment helped make “The Great 9th,” as Lindsay took to calling it, a hub of black political clout.
Two generations later, with the seat open and the March 5 election approaching, the area that gave birth to historic South Central Avenue and the city’s black middle-class culture has a far different political landscape. It is nearly 80% Latino.Tiendas and carnicerias line its boulevards. And for the first time since the hard-fought gains of the civil rights movement, voters in the coming months could elect a council member who is not black.
What that might mean, and whether it matters, has been a whispered topic in the campaign to replace CouncilwomanJan Perry, who is leaving after 12 years.
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