Shoes to Fill: Fifty-Six Glorious Years of FBA/ADOS Superstars in the Culver-Crenshaw District

We acknowledge we are running a White candidate for a traditionally Black seat.

The politico-demographic equivalent of today’s 55th assembly district — let’s call it the “Culver-Crenshaw” district — has existed for eight decades, and it hasn’t been represented by a Republican in 67 years (and he wasn’t exactly exemplary, having resigned after being convicted of selling illegal liquor licenses). Beneficially for racial justice, equal representation and lawmaker diversity, the Culver-Crenshaw district has been represented exclusively by African-American assemblypeople for the past 56 years, all Democrats, beginning in 1967 with Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.

One might wonder, was Burke the first African-American elected to the California State Assembly? No! The first ever Black assemblyperson, elected 48 years before Burke, Frederick Madison Roberts, was a Republican, represented part of Los Angeles for 16 years from 1919 to 1935, and was also the first person of African-American descent to be elected to any major public office among the states on the west coast, and who thus became the namesake of the California Legislative Black Caucus Policy Institute’s (CLBCPI) scholarship.

The acronym FBA means “Foundational Black American”, a descriptive term, an ideology and a movement, originated by Los Angeles-based independent filmmaker Tariq Nasheed in 2019.

The acronym ADOS means “American Descendants of Slavery”, also a descriptive term, an ideology and a movement, originated by Los Angeles-based legislative aide Yvette Carnell and Los Angeles-based defense attorney Antonio Moore in 2018.

Assembly seat history across 84 years and 7 redistrictings:

AssemblypersonNumTime in officePartyEthnicityMap
Isaac Bryan55Jan 1, 2023 – presentDFBA/ADOSM
Isaac Bryan54May 28, 2021 – Dec 31, 2022DFBA/ADOSM
Sydney Kamlager54April 16, 2018 – March 11, 2021DFBA/ADOSM
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas54December 5, 2013 – December 31, 2017DFBA/ADOSM
Holly Mitchell542012 – September 26, 2013DFBA/ADOSM
Holly Mitchell47December 6, 2010 – 2012DFBA/ADOSM
Karen Bass47December 6, 2004 – November 30, 2010DFBA/ADOSM
Herb Wesson47December 7, 1998 – November 30, 2004DFBA/ADOSM
Kevin Murray47December 5, 1994 – November 30, 1998DFBA/ADOSM
Gwen Moore47December 7, 1992 – November 30, 1994DFBA/ADOSM
Gwen Moore49December 4, 1978 – November 30, 1992DFBA/ADOSM
Julian Dixon491974 – November 30, 1978DFBA/ADOSM
Julian Dixon63January 8, 1973 – 1974DFBA/ADOS__
Yvonne Brathwaite Burke63January 2, 1967 – January 3, 1973DFBA/ADOS__
Don Allen63September 13, 1956 – January 2, 1967DWhite__
G. Delbert Morris63November 25, 1947 – February 29, 1956RWhite__
Don Allen63January 2, 1939 – June 20, 1947DWhite__
“Culver-Crenshaw” district assembly seat history across 7 redistrictings since 1939

Notice any huge Los Angeles political names there? Bass (current, 43rd, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, 26th Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, 67th Speaker of the California State Assembly), Mitchell (Member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from the 2nd District, former Chair of Los Angeles County), Wesson (65th Speaker of the California State Assembly and Former President of the Los Angeles City Council and 16-years Member of the Los Angeles City Council from the 10th district). It’s no coincidence.

California Journal was a monthly publication dedicated to California politics and public policy issues [OAC], founded in 1970 by Fazio, Hoeber and Evans (it ceased publication in 2005 due to lack of funds [Biz Journals]), which often published detailed technical comments on California’s legislative districts. After the 1990 redistricting, the California Journal published the following summary of the new District 47, which was the redrawn Culver-Crenshaw District 49 represented at that time by Assemblywoman Gwen Moore:

“District 47 (73% D – 13% R) – MAP
This district includes the Culver City and Crenshaw areas of Los Angeles, is solidy Democratic and is one of five districts the Court drew with the intention that it be represented by an African-American. Overall, the district is more than 70 percent minority, with about 40 percent of the population Black. The Court’s guidelines called for a district population to be between 35 and 40 percent Black to ensure that the group elects one of its own to office.” [Statewide Database] (emphasis mine)

The “Culver-Crenshaw” district area had already been represented by an FBA/ADOS assemblyperson since 1967, even though the district lines were not, until 1990, as far as we know, deliberately drawn to guarantee an FBA/ADOS assemblyperson. That means 23 years of FBA/ADOS assembly representation occurred naturally without any explicit intention.

Culver City was founded in 1917 (two years before the groundbreaker of groundbreakers, exemplary Republican and all-around bad-a** Frederick M Roberts was elected to the California Assembly). So that means Culver City existed for 50 years with a sequence of white and other ethnicities of assemblypeople and then, since 1967, has been represented exclusively by an FBA/ADOS assemblyperson for the past 56 years. In other words, in the entire history of Culver City, the (current) period of uninterrupted FBA/ADOS legislative representation is longer, by 12%, than the period of mostly white representation that preceded it. How many of our AD55 readers knew about this dazzling magnitude of Black achievement?

Yes, this is a district that has been represented by FBA/ADOS elected officials for 56 consecutive years, and yes in 1990 this district was likely redrawn specifically in order to guarantee FBA/ADOS representation for the foreseeable future, and yes the unparalleled City of Los Angeles, specifically, is the birthplace, in 1919, of FBA/ADOS political achievement West of the Mississippi (which, emphatically, boasts a wonderfully Republican pedigree), and yes candidate Keith Cascio is a European-American person (born in Brooklyn, NY, to a father who emigrated to the USA from the Italian island of Sicily in 1953, and a mother whose maternal grandparents emigrated to the USA from England in 1912), and yes we do honor and celebrate the district’s history of FBA/ADOS representation, and yes we do consider it an essential duty and an essential priority of any 55th district assemblyperson, Black or White, to protect, nurture and advocate for the Los Angeles FBA/ADOS community, and so, it is with full respect and gratitude, that in 2023 we enthusiastically offer this FBA/ADOS community a new direction of legislative representation.

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