Black History Month / Today’s Voices : Perspectives on the Past--and the Future


From the African American who owned much of what is now the San Fernando Valley in the 1790s to the high school student who has devoted himself to keeping his peers out of gangs, people of African descent in the Valley have a long, proud history.

In this special report, we look back at some of that history and--with the help of several voices from the present--turn to the future.


SEAN D. HENRY / ‘People Should Go to Churches’

Sean D. Henry, 16, of San Fernando is a sophomore at Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda. He is president of the youth choir at the Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church in Pacoima and a volunteer for the Pacoima Community Youth Culture Center.


“I have friends who are hard-core gang members. I try not to live that way. I try to do something for my community rather than hurting it by killing innocent people. I started volunteering after seeing what other people did. It seemed to bring more of a happiness to the community when people did something positive.

“People should be active in their churches. More people should go to churches, period. It’s a more positive thing to do. You can also work with your community center or Boys & Girls Club or volunteer time for something useful.

“I volunteer at the Pacoima community youth center. I answer telephones and pass out flyers when something is happening at the Boys & Girls Club. During their campaigns, I was helping different congressmen and Assembly candidates to run. I would introduce them and I would pass out flyers.

“The world needs something positive. We have the drugs and we have the peer pressure--we need something more uplifting. We need to see somebody actually doing something. If you actually see somebody doing something you want to do, join in and help them.”