A TALE OF FOUR CITIES

The 1960s were a time of political and social turmoil in the United States, and one result of that unrest was an outbreak of violence in four cities: Los Angeles (1965, 1992), Newark (1967), Detroit (1967), and Washington, DC (1968). Each city has had to struggle to rebuild. Caprice Young has had a long involvement in Los Angeles city government, and is now CEO and President of the California Charter Schools Association. In her view, many of the problems that led to the riots take generations to solve. She then made a comment that seems relevant to any city in trouble: "You don't just fix it once and go away. Everyone needs to have a sustained commitment to building great communities."

Although Watts and a lot of Los Angeles are still plagued by gang violence, which has become a major barrier to economic development, new commercial and housing development is moving forward. A major bright spot: The Watts Learning Center, a charter school run by the community for children from the most socioeconomically depressed circumstances. The school's excellent track record provides new hope for young people in the area.

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ANIMAL RITES
November 15, 2004
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