We are in the process of upgrading software and the SDN website will be temporarily unavailable for a few hours on Monday morning EST. Once the software is upgraded, this notice will no longer appear and the site will be back to normal. We apologize for any inconvenience.
  • Image 1 of 24

Promise and Peril in South Los Angeles

Michael Robinson Chavez | United States

Organization: The Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 03/21/09 Ceaser Holguin, 8, holds a cross commemorating victims of gang violence during a rally for LAURA (Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts), an organization founded by Adela Barajas at Fred Robers Park. Homicide rates have declined steadily in the neighborhood while poverty rates have soared.

During 2009, the Los Angeles Times produced a series about South Los Angeles, the notoriously troubled and impoverished neighborhood best known by its historic name: South-Central.

Neighborhoods that were once 90% African American are now 95% Latino. Newly arrived immigrants from Central America are supplanting Mexican-American families, altering the culture and creating a dizzying and complex diaspora. Latino gangs are flourishing while black gangs are disappearing. With no economic investment and a crippling worldwide recession poverty in South Los Angeles is reaching debilitating heights.

These changes have taken place virtually unseen and unnoticed by the outside world – even among many of those who work in Los Angeles City Hall, just a couple miles to the north, and even though South L.A. is home to 1 million people, more than live in Detroit or San Francisco.


California has been hard hit by the worldwide recession. An economy based on real estate, tourism and service industries, the bursting of the housing bubble and a lack of disposable income has led to 12 percent unemployment.

Nowhere is this more acute than in South Los Angeles. I have been photographing a 14 square mile area of the heart of this megalopolis discovering not just gangs and crime but a strong sense of community in the face of seemingly insurmountable economic odds.

After Firestone, Goodyear and other industries shuttered their doors in the 1960s and 70s the area entered a period of economic decline. It has been exacerbated by the worldwide recession. Latino immigrants are changing the face of South Los Angeles but the economic malaise remains. In the face of this there is a community struggling to rise above their circumstances. In many cases they are succeding, but in this forgotten zone of Los Angeles, the "lucha," or struggle will continue long after other areas of the city have returned to their free spending ways.



Michael Robinson Chavez

Los Angeles Times Photo

202 West First Street

Los Angeles, Ca. 90012





Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments