The Secret to South L.A.’s Success Is That It Loves Itself

Local Leaders Discuss Protecting the Community’s Rich Past and Promoting Its Bright Future

It’s one thing to put in the hard work to improve a community, but when do you declare success?

In long-maligned South Los Angeles, that time is now, said a panel that included a scholar, a community organizer, a youth mentor, and a former city official during “Is South L.A. an Urban Success Story?,” a Zócalo/California Wellness Foundation event.

The lively discussion was moderated by Jennifer Ferro, president of KCRW, before an overflow crowd at Mercado La Paloma, a former garment sweatshop turned community hub. The conversation covered the evolution of South L.A. into a place that is both far more hopeful and far more complex than stereotypes would suggest.

It’s not that the work in South Los Angeles is done, said Manuel Pastor, a USC sociology professor and director of its Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. …