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The Los Angeles Times Revives ‘Black L.A.: Looking at Diversity’ Series from 1982

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(Los Angeles Times)

This week, the Los Angeles Times re-introduced readers to “Black L.A.: Looking at Diversity,” a 22-story series that ran in the newspaper over a three-week span in 1982. Created by a team of Black reporters and editors, the series included stories of success, struggle, art, politics, family, culture, education, sports, media, policing, racism and history.

The stories were digitally published in their original text on Oct. 4, along with an introductory essay by Columnist Sandy Banks, who was part of the reporting team 39 years ago. Banks’ column looks back at how the project came together and why the stories are still relevant today. She writes: “The year was 1982 and, like most of my Black newsroom colleagues, I was still wounded and fuming over an incendiary front-page series The Times had run the year before titled ‘Marauders from inner city prey on L.A.'s suburbs,’ depicting young Black men as ‘savage’ inner-city ‘marauders’ preying on the city’s wealthy white suburbs.”

Multiplatform Editor Christian Orozco said the idea to revive the series came last year, after the newsroom brought the 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning series on Southern California’s Latino community into its digital archives. “In doing research, it was obvious that the ‘Black L.A.’ project had a huge influence on the series,” Orozco said. “Frank Sotomayor and Louis Sahagún, who were part of the team, wrote about ‘Black L.A’ in their pieces about the Latino series. That’s what started the journey to this project.”

In her column re-introducing the series, Banks also noted how revisiting the stories underscored the importance of representation within The Times newsroom: “Rereading our series resurrected that era for me; our stories reflect both the desperation I felt, and our group’s collective sense of responsibility. They were rich with details that others might not have seen.”

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The complete series, “Black L.A.: Looking at Diversity,” is available on latimes.com and in the L.A. Times app.


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