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Remembering 1968: LA Town Hall

Posted on 04/11/18 by Joy Hepp, AARP Blog Author

The year 1968 was significant for many reasons, some historical, some tragic, some inspiring, all memorable. While our memories may differ, they are what unites us. Now — fifty years after the passing of Martin Luther King Jr., the signing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, increased troops in Viet Nam and protests across major US cities — we invite you to join us as we discuss the past, present and future of these shared recollections and how our community, advocates and partners are working together to make sure when we look back in another fifty years we are inspired

Join us for a discussion on Civil Rights and financial security as we recognize the significance of the year 1968 as well as the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose call for economic justice was as unequivocal as it was prescient. The Town Hall will consist of a series of various activities that that will highlight “Black future” as it pertains to wealth, housing, and entrepreneurship.

The event will kick-off with our keynote speaker Valeisha Butterfield Jones of Google, then move into a panel discussion with Lori R. Gay, brand strategist, Sheila Coates, financial psychologist, Anita R. Johnson, AARP California’s associate state director for multicultural outreach, Jennifer L. Hopson and activist Tamika Butler will serve as the moderator. Event attendees will also have the opportunity to see a preview of  “Telling the Story of Civil Rights in Los Angeles”, a short video series featuring conversations with prominent storytellers, artists leaders and activists from organizations like the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Los Angeles Urban League, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and the J.L. Edmonds Project. We will wrap up the day with a historic Civil Rights tour at the Watts Community Action Center following the town hall.



Miss Jones is the Global Head of Women & Black Community Engagement for Google and the co-founder and CEO of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). Valeisha has a deep passion for diversity and inclusion, as evidenced by her work for nearly two decades driving social responsibility campaigns and community engagement programs for corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.



LORI R. GAY | Housing Expert

Miss Gay is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County (NHS), a non-profit lender, developer, and neighborhood revitalization corporation.  She has worked in the community development field for over 30 years, focusing her efforts on rebuilding impoverished communities and creating mechanisms for community empowerment and ownership.

SHEILA COATES | Brand Strategist

Miss Coates is owner and CEO of BYOB —Build Your Own Brand. While she has worked in entertainment most of her professional career, she recently has moved into corporate and personal-branding territory, inking deals with the First Lady of Bermuda, Comcast, Coca Cola, Neutrogena, State Farm, Sony, Dress for Success and others.

ANITA R. JOHNSON | Financial Psychologist

Miss Johnson is an entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and founder of Money Wisdom for Women. Anita has over 30 years of experience in Accounting, Taxation, & Finance, helping entrepreneurs find their financial voice. After settling into entrepreneurship in 1998 with Anita R Johnson & Associates as the parent company, she quickly founded Money Wisdom for Women to help women upgrade their unhealthy financial habits to healthy habits, helping them make sound financial decisions.


Jennifer Hopson is the Associate State Director for multicultural outreach for AARP California. She creates culturally competent strategy uniting both community outreach and communications to expand public education and campaign reach within multicultural communities. Previously she was the Health Equity Director at American Heart Association where she identified barriers and factors that prevent the Black community in Southern California from having ideal heart health.

ANDRE COMANDON | Urban Planning Scholar

Andre Comandon is a PhD student in the Department of Urban Planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. His research focuses on issues of segregation and housing domestically and in international comparative perspective. He recently worked with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and has written on Europe, China, Mexico, and South Africa. His most recent work, as a research affiliate with the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge and for his dissertation, examines segregation and inequality in the context of Los Angeles, and the changing nature of neighborhood diversity.

WHAT:                 Town Hall 11 A.M. – 2 P.M. and Historical Civil Rights Tour 2 P.M. – 3 P.M.

WHEN:                 April 21, 2018 11 A.M. – 3 P.M.

WHERE:               Watts Labor Community Action Center (Phoenix Hall)                                                                               10950 South Central Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90059

RSVP:                   Registration is FREE, but seating is limited. The first 200 registrants will receive a special gift. Food and beverages will be provided.  Call 1-877-926-8300 or visit to register.

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