In L.A., Driving the Road to Black Empowerment

For Families Like Mine, Cars Were an Engine of Social and Economic Mobility

This essay publishes alongside next week’s Zócalo and Destination Crenshaw event, “Is Car Culture the Ultimate Act of Community in Crenshaw?” Register here to join the program live in-person at the ASU California Center Broadway or virtually online at 6 p.m. PDT on Friday, May 31.

In 1925 my maternal grandparents bought a new Dodge, packed up their things, and made their escape from the anti-Black restrictions, injustice, and violence of Montgomery, Alabama: bound for a new life in Los Angeles, California.

Thanks to more newly …

Ukraine in My Blood and on My Mind

A Foreign Correspondent’s Family Served Russian Imperialism, and Then Was Destroyed By It

This is the second of two essays exploring the intertwined histories of Russia and Ukraine, told through one family’s history. Read the first essay …

The Russian Empire, My Soviet Loyalist Grandfather, and Me

From Catherine the Great to Stalin, My Family Played a Part in Imperial Rule Over Ukraine—Until They Didn’t

This is the first of two essays exploring the intertwined histories of Russia and Ukraine, told through one family’s history. Read the second essay …

Searching for My Grandfather and the Tulsa in Me | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Searching for My Grandfather and the Tulsa in Me

100 Years Later, I’m Still Sifting Through the Tulsa Race Massacre’s Destruction to Find Our Family’s History

I am my father’s daughter.

I am the first-born daughter, the middle child, who was called Sweet Pea, Mama-Daddy, and Peanie. Naming is very important in the Black community. The …

How My Great-Grandfather Dealt With a Lout Named Jack London | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How My Great-Grandfather Dealt With a Lout Named Jack London

A Muralist Finds Herself Captivated by the Bay Area Writer, Crusader for Justice, and Drunken Brawler

Growing up in the Bay Area, I heard a lot of family lore about Jack London, and my great-grandfather George Samuels.

Samuels had been a district attorney, a police court judge, …

An L.A. Woman Embraces Her Ancestral New Orleans Home

How Family Reunions Revealed That My Grandparents’ Stories Are My Own

Zigzagging through the crush of rush-hour commuters at L.A.’s Union Station, I’m hoping to make up for lost time. Suddenly, out of the edges of my vision, a man …