With support from California Humanities, Pepperdine Libraries’ “Preserving the History of South Los Angeles” has recorded oral history interviews as part of the broader effort to preserve the voices and lived experiences of members of the Black community in South Los Angeles. We spoke to elders in the community who come from a Christian background, including individuals with roots in the local Church of Christ tradition. Each narrator has spent their life nurturing and building community across many neighborhoods in South Los Angeles. Most also have connections to Pepperdine University or its original George Pepperdine College campus, which was in the Vermont Knolls neighborhood of South Los Angeles from 1937-1981. This period coincides with several significant historical events in South Los Angeles, including the growth and flourishing of the Black community following the Great Migration.

We wanted to take on this work now, as escalating and sociopolitical forces like gentrification are threatening the rich cultural legacy of Black Los Angeles. Through partnering with Black elders to actively preserve their voices, memories, and lived experiences as long-time residents of South Los Angeles, the project aims to share this history with  wider audiences - community members, educators, students, scholars and the public at large, both present and future.