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The Los Angeles Sentinel

NCM Profile

NCM, Astrid Martinez Posted: Apr 11, 2003

The Los Angeles Sentinel is celebrating its 70th anniversary this week, making it the oldest and largest black-owned newspaper in the west. From its inception in 1934, the weekly publication has served as a pioneer in social change and continues to be an advocate for the African American community in Los Angeles.

Bernard Lloyd, national account manager and Jennifer Thomas, publisher of The Los Angeles Sentinel

On January 23, 1934, Leon H. Washington, the founder of The Los Angeles Sentinel, displayed a sign that read “Don’t Spend Where You can’t Work” outside Zerg's Furniture Store on 43rd St. and Central Avenue. In the middle of the Depression and long before the movement became popular, the 26-year-old initiated the slogan that would become one of the cornerstones of the movement against racial discrimination in employment practices. He was arrested immediately on the charge of violating the city picketing ordinance. “Zerg Store Has Publisher Jailed” read the headline in that week’s Los Angeles Sentinel, under the slogan “Don’t Spend Where You Can’t Work.”

Originally from Kansas City, Washington moved to Los Angeles to sell advertising in what was then the largest African American publication, The California Eagle. His experience at the newspaper stirred him to launch his own publication, The Eastside Shopper, in 1933. One year later, the publication-– which began as mostly advertising and social news-– was re-named The Los Angeles Sentinel.

As publisher of The Sentinel for four decades, Washington built a vehicle for change. The newspaper has covered the news and views of the African American community during the Depression of the '30s; exposed prejudice and discrimination in the armed services in the '40s (despite threats of federal prosecution for treason); and championed civil rights in the '50s and '60s. While other newspapers have focused on crime in the black community, The Sentinel celebrates the accomplishments of African Americans.

With a circulation of 18,700, the newspaper’s growth and success is a result of its commitment to community reporting. Its editorial sections-– News, Family, Sports, Entertainment, Lifestyles, Religion and Opinion– have remained consistent for 70 years.

The news section is currently dominated by the affects of the war with Iraq, homeland security and crime. According to The Los Angeles Sentinel, 99 percent of African Americans oppose the war. On the newspaper’s Opinion Page, one article entitled “The Infinite Hypocrisy of an Illegal and Unjust War” calls the U.S. war on Iraq an “illegal, immoral invasion of a sovereign nation.” Another opinion piece is entitled “The War Nobody Wants – Except President Bush; Does He Really Speak For Us?” It asserts, “the war on Iraq will cast the United States as the new bully of the world.”

Recent editions have also featured front-page articles on the local affects of the war, the recession and the rise in crime. One story on budget cuts discusses the fear of many non-profits that they will not being able to continue serving their communities. Another feature on local crime and gang violence highlights the many members of the local community that are looking for peace in their neighborhoods.

Today The Los Angeles Sentinel tries to appeal to younger readers by covering local high school sports and organizing community events. The newspaper recently sponsored a reception for Dorsey High School and Crenshaw High School alumni and students to encourage a safe rivalry between the two schools.

With nearly one million African Americans living in Los Angeles County, The Sentinel continues to be an advocate for civil rights and social change. According to managing editor James Bolden, “in the past, the racism was blatant. Now there is hidden racism. It’s a different era in civil rights.”

The Los Angeles Sentinel
3800 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008
Tel: 323-299-3800
Fax: 323-299-3896

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