FORWARD LA: Race, Arts, and Inclusive Placemaking after the 1992 Civil Unrest






View the Forward LA photo album here

Click here to view video from the full two-day conference


April 27-28, 2017

Radisson Hotel
3540 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA  900013


Our conference, Race, Arts, and Inclusive Placemaking after the 1992 Civil Unrest, takes stock at the 25th anniversary of the 1992 LA Civil Unrest, a seminal moment which sparked a national discussion about the conflicts in our cities. Since then, Los Angeles has been rebuilding itself in important ways that are timely to add to the nation’s current discussion about racial injustice, freedom, and opportunity in the city.

We bring together academics, activists, community members, and artists to share rich data-driven stories of neighborhood change, of catalytic alliances between social movement organizations, and the role that arts and culture have played in transforming LA’s built environment and inter-cultural understanding. We also grapple with the new permutations of persistent urban challenges such as development without displacement, police-community trust, and building relationships between generations of movements, organizations, and communities.

The first day of the conference will explore the ways in which demographics, data, social innovation, and local economic opportunity are shaping unique challenges and opportunities within Los Angeles communities. The second day will focus on the ways that innovative Angelenos’ arts and culture practices have helped to rebuild redemptive spaces in LA through food, arts, cinema, media, music, and performance.  Special features include the Sunshine & Central photo exhibit, the Neighborhood Data for Social Change platform, and an LA Oral History Booth.

The $100 registration fee includes two days of dynamic speakers, ample time for networking as well as continental breakfast, served lunch, and parking. Generous sponsors have provided complimentary registration ($12 daily parking fee not included) for students, faculty, and a limited number for community members. Please contact Stacia Fewox for complimentary registration:

Thursday, April 27

8am –  Breakfast

8:45am – Welcome and Overview
Highlight Reel | Video

9:15am – Sunshine & Central Photo Exhibit by Matt Gainer and Daniel Walker
Highlight Reel | Video | Photos
Sunshine & Central is an ongoing exploration of the circumstances and hopeful expectations of young people in South Los Angeles. A collaboration between historian Daniel Walker and photographer Matt Gainer, this project engages dozens of millennials from across South Los Angeles to render the face of hopeful ambition and day-to-day reality in one of America’s most complex urban areas.

9:25am – Neighborhood Data for Social Change Demonstration
Highlight Reel | Video
The Price Center for Social Innovation will demonstrate its newly launched Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) platform, a user-friendly online data resource that allows nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, and government agencies to access reliable, aggregated data at the neighborhood level. Housing data from ten different policy domains, the NDSC platform addresses the scarcity of local data in many communities across the greater Los Angeles region. The platform pairs data with narrative-based explanations and visualization tools, such as data analysis, digital mapping, and report creation. These narrative and visual components set the NDSC platform apart from other data repositories, making the tool widely accessible and user friendly for all levels of data literacy. The platform, which is open to the public, will empower local governments, nonprofit organizations, and the broader public to better incorporate data into their local programs, helping them develop evidence-based policy solutions to address the most urgent challenges facing their communities.

9:45am – Panel 1: Demographic Change – 1992 to 2017 
Highlight Reel | Video
Demographic change has been a narrative in the City of Los Angeles since its inception as a settlement in colonial New Spain in 1781. These population shifts continue to mold and shape the neighborhoods and cultural life of the region. This panel will discuss some of the demographic changes in the decades leading up to 1992, transitions since then, and how we might expect Los Angeles’ neighborhoods to evolve in the next 25 years.

Dowell Myers, Professor, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy (Introduction)
Framing Paper (PDF): From Boom Crash Injustice to the New Maturity of Los Angeles: Demographics and Perception in 1992, Today, and the Future
Darnell Hunt, Professor and Chair of the UCLA Department of Sociology, and Director, Bunche Center for African American Studies
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
Ed Park, Professor, Professor, Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University
Alberto Retana, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Coalition
Jody Agius Vallejo, Associate Professor, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences (Moderator)

10:45am – Break 

11am – Panel 2: Opportunity Neighborhoods (Data Stories)
Highlight Reel | Video
While recent research has documented the benefits of living in low poverty neighborhoods (see the Chetty et al research on Moving to Opportunity as an example), there remains much debate about what are the mechanisms that help families thrive.  Measures of neighborhood opportunity are commonly focused on a school’s test scores, the average education or income of the area, but these measures are often connected to high cost of living areas and may miss important predictors of success such as social cohesion, access to civic resources and other important factors.  This session will discuss how to measure opportunity neighborhoods and how policies can be developed to ensure that no neighborhood is devoid of the necessary characteristics for all families to thrive.

Jackie Dupont Walker, Los Angeles Metro Board Member and President of Ward Economic Development Corporation
Salin Geevarghese, Senior Advisor, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Angela Johnson Meszaros, Staff Attorney, EarthJustice
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
Meg Palisoc, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Synergy Academies

12pm – Lunch Keynote Address:
Highlight Reel | Video
Manuel Pastor, Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change (Introduction)
Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Los Angeles City Councilmember, District 8 (Keynote)

1pm – Panel 3: Health Disparities
Highlight Reel | Video
Health disparities across income strata and race and ethnicity have been well recognized in the literature.   Residents of high poverty neighborhoods often face multiple disadvantages that impact their health.  Unfortunately, health data are often not available in a disaggregated fashion to allow community actors to target and develop interventions in neighborhoods.  The advent of the 500 Cities project ( provides an opportunity to obtain data on a variety of health outcomes at the Census tract level.  This panel will answer questions concerning what neighborhood data will allow community stakeholders to do as well as discuss the challenges that exist in reducing health disparities in low income communities.

Tamu Jones, Program Manager, Building Healthy Communities South Los Angeles, The California Endowment
LaVonna Lewis, Professor, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
John Moon, District Manager, Community Development, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
William Vega, Provost Professor, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Executive Director, USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
Dana Goldman, Distinguished Professor and Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair and Director, USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics (Moderator)

2pm – Panel 4: Data as a Driver of Social Innovation
Highlight Reel | Video
While data continues to become available at an increasing rate, there remain challenges to leveraging these data to facilitate regional wide assessments of social innovation. Some of the current challenges include a lack of current and consistent data, as well as the ability to demonstrate the relationships between various data sets, i.e. neighborhood crime and suspension rates within a particular school system, or neighborhood foreclosure rates and childhood obesity levels.  This session will discuss what is necessary for data to become an intervention that facilitates neighborhood change, and how community actors can use these data to achieve collective objectives.

Lilian Coral, Chief Data Officer, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
Michael McAfee, President, PolicyLink
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
Clarence Wardell, Director of Repurposing for Results, What Works Cities Initiative
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
Gary Painter, Professor, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and Director, Sol Price Center for Social Innovation (Moderator)

3pm – Break

3:15pm – Panel 5: Which Way, South LA: Making the Future in South Los Angeles
Highlight Reel | Video
Presented by: The Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change

In 1992, South LA (and many parts of the rest of Los Angeles) exploded in a wave of civil unrest. The proximate trigger was a startling verdict in a case of police brutality but the fundamental causes were rooted in a toxic mix of neighborhood disinvestment, economic despair, over- policing, unhealthy land uses, as well as a series of other factors. South LA finds itself today still grappling with that legacy of economic neglect and mass incarceration but also facing a new set of challenges as well, including threats of gentrification and displacement and the need to successfully incorporate a large immigrant presence. At the same time, the area has shown tremendous resilience: It has gone through one of the most dramatic demographic transitions in urban America, sometimes with tension but often with grace, and it has cultivated a generation of leaders who are developing a shared vision for socially just and economically prosperous region. This panel will be a moderated discussion about the root causes of on-going struggles that pre-date the uprising and community-led efforts to improve conditions over the past 25 years with a focus on the grassroots organizing, power-building approaches, and strategic campaigns.

Laurence B. Frank, President, Los Angeles Trade Technical College
Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, Executive Vice President, Community Coalition
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Gloria Walton, President and Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education
Pete White, Executive Director and Founder, Los Angeles Community Action Network
Manuel Pastor, Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change (Moderator)

5pm Reception – An Evening of Reflection: 25 years after the L.A. Riots
USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences invites you to join us for an evening of reflection. Come experience the digital archive of images surrounding the 1992 Los Angeles Riots while networking with fellow Trojans and friends. The networking reception will be followed by a series of conversations with university and community leaders that will discuss lessons learned and how we should continue to move Los Angeles forward.
Reflections from the 1992 LA Riots:
Professor William Deverell, Director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and Professor of History
Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray, University Fellow
Los Angeles 25 years Later and Beyond:
Professor Ange-Marie Hancock, Professor of Political Science, Gender Studies & Sociology, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Faculty Master, New-North Residential College
Rev. Mark Whitlock, Executive Director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement
Dr. Anthony Otero, Sergeant II at LAPD

Friday, April 28

8am – Breakfast

9am – ART SPACES in the City
Highlight Reel | Video
This session brings together artists and organizations who have been working to break down LA’s segregated art geography by where they situate themselves in the city, their connections to insider and outsider arts, and practices to engage local communities and the larger public. We will also discuss the challenge of how art can raise a community’s self value without igniting displacement and gentrification.

Jaqueline Alexander-Sykes, Administrative Director, St. Elmo’s Village
Anne Bray, Executive Director, Freewaves
Jamillah James, Head Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles
Megan Steinman, Director, Underground Museum
Dewey Tafoya, Artist in Residence, Self-help Graphics
Annette Kim, Price School of Public Policy (RAP USC Faculty Moderator)

10:30am – FOOD JUSTICE:  USC Campus + Community relations around food and space
Highlight Reel | Video
In 1992, food disparities were already on the South Los Angeles reform agenda, but in the 25 years since, food equity has become a central element of a broader food equity movement. This panel examines two aspects of this movement: first, how have community-based organizations created change through new community gardens, farmer’s markets, and healthier food supply, and two, what has been the role of food in the evolution of USC and its community relationships?

Erika Chesley, USC Hospitality
Mark Glassnak, LA Neighborhood Land Trust Community Services Unlimited
Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, Executive Director, Esperanza Community Housing
Neelam Sharma, Executive Director, Community Services Unlimited
David Sloane (RAP USC Faculty Moderator)

12pm – Lunch Keynote Address: LOCOLS
Highlight Reel | Video
Calling itself a “fast food revolution”, Locol restaurant in Watts offers a business model for producing healthy, affordable, chef-created food that employs and serves the local community.
Roy Choi and Locol crew members Carnisha Coleman, Keith Corbin, Lydia Friend (Keynote)
Josh Kun, Annenberg School of Communication (RAP USC Faculty Moderator)

1pm – CINEMA: Independent Voices and Transmedia Strategies
Highlight Reel | Video
These film and media content creators of color share the creative strategies they have had to employ to have their vision and voices heard. Their projects offer counter-narratives to racialized mainstream news and entertainment and search for ways to connect to social action.

Justin Chon, Independent Director, Writer, Actor, Sundance NEXT audience award winner for film Gook
Grace Lee, Independent Producer, Director, and Writer, Peabody Award-winning American Revolutionary and KTown92
Mauricio Mota, Co-President, Wise Entertainment and Executive Producer of Emmy-award nominated East Los High
Colin Maclay, Annenberg School of Communication (RAP USC Faculty Moderator)

2:30pm – HIP HOP:  ‘Alright’, Civic Engagement, and Stories of Resistance
Highlight Reel | Video
Starting with a viewing of Kendrick Lamar’s Alright video, the panel deliberates the racialized body in the city and the power of visuals and music in processes of civic engagement and building stories of resistance.

Melina Abdullah, Professor and Chair, Pan-African Studies, Cal State LA, Original organizer and LA Chapter Lead of Black Lives Matter
E. Moncell Durden, Assistant Professor, USC Kaufman School of Dance
Anthony J. Ratcliff, Assistant Professor, Pan-African Studies, Cal State LA
Taj Frazier, Annenberg School of Communication (RAP USC Faculty Moderators)
Lanita Jacobs, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences

4pm – Performance: The Open Mic, Youth, and Emotional Literacy
For over three decades Mic Sessions and (AIM) has utilized arts as a vehicle to teach emotional literacy. This work continues to transform the hearts and minds of at risk youth. Founder Leila Steinberg (whose work helped shaped the legendary artist Tupac Shakur) along with Law Professor Jody Armour and AIM”S artists will present a one hour introduction to AIM’s work.

Leila Steinberg and AIM4TheHeART artists
Jody Armour, Gould School of Law (RAP USC Faculty Moderator)

AcornCo-Organizers include:
Sol Price Center for Social Innovation
SLAB: the Spatial Analysis Lab of USC Price
USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE)
USC RAP: Race, Arts, and Placemaking Faculty Collaborative
USC Dornsife Alumni Relations

The organizers would like to acknowledge the generous support from the following members of the Trojan family:
Price Philanthropies
Dennis and Brooks Holt
Michael and Sarah Chang
Daniel and Sherry Gi
Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change

We would also like to acknowledge the generous support of USC allies:
USC Provost Office
Visions and Voices Program
Price School of Public Policy
USC Digital Humanities Program