CRENSHAW : Los Angeles Sentinel to Relocate Offices
The Los Angeles Sentinel, the city’s largest black newspaper, has purchased a Crenshaw-area building and this fall plans to move out of the historic offices it has occupied for nearly 50 years.
Kenneth R. Thomas, publisher and chief executive officer of the 60-year-old publication, said the move to the Crenshaw district will enable the paper to better serve its core African-American readership.
“We are nostalgic about this historical site that has been a part of all that Central Avenue has been to the black community and to the entire city,” Thomas said. “We are moving because of the changing demographics. The population we serve has migrated to the west and south.”
According to Thomas, Latinos account for 70% of the Vernon/Central area, which was once the preeminent center of social and cultural life for the city’s black community. Thomas said the paper’s mission of serving African-Americans remained unchanged as the neighborhood changed around its headquarters.
“We don’t publish in Spanish,” Thomas said. “There is a very definite need to serve the black community. That is what we were designed to do and that’s the way we intend to stay. With existing (Spanish-language) publications, the Hispanic community is very well served.”
Founded in 1933 by Leon Washington, a prominent civil rights activist, the Sentinel has occupied its present offices at Central Avenue and East 43rd Street since 1945. The paper gained national recognition shortly after it was founded when it called on the city’s African-Americans to boycott businesses on Central Avenue that did not employ blacks.
Once the second-largest black newspaper in the nation, circulation has fallen from a peak of 56,000 in the 1960s to about 23,000 today. Thomas said the weekly paper, delivered to homes and sold at local stores, lost 28% of its readership after many of the businesses that sold it were destroyed during last year’s riots.
Officials from Councilwoman Rita Walters’ offices and the Dunbar Economic Development Corp., an area housing and business developer, said the Sentinel building has been sold to the adjacent Family Farms supermarket.