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Black History & Culture


Over 50% of the first settlers in the California pueblo originally named Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúncula were of African descent or mixed-races (SurveyLA, 2018). In 1850, when California joined the Union, this pueblo was renamed to the City of Los Angeles and has not changed its name after that (SurveyLA, 2018). Over the years, the city developed from being a small rural town, to a ranch-based economy, to later becoming a business enticing location leading with entrepreneurs and the entertainment industry. Although the African American population was involved in the development of the city from its early beginnings, it was not until 1870 that people of color were allowed to vote. The city’s population exponentially grew over the years but the African American population did now grow as fast. Due to various factors such as access, mobility, and sense of belonging or community the population was centralized in particular areas of the city.
Since the beginning of its existence, East Vernon School (in 1889) that later became William McKinley Junior High (in 1912) served primarily African American families who lived around the area. Similarly to the early beginnings of the city development, over 50% of the student demographic was African American or of African descent. In order to acknowledge the African American community the school campus was renamed to George Washington Carver Junior High in 1912. This new name honors the contributions of Dr. Carver as a scientist in American culture as well as a major representative of the African American community.
During the 1950s and 60s the civil rights movement was happening across the country led by African American activists. It is no surprise that in the 1970s the students and families at Carver Jr. High School wanted to commemorate the efforts by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm Little (more famously known as Malcolm X) by naming the English/math building after Dr. King and history building after Malcolm X. Up to this day, the Carver community still refers to these buildings as the King Building and Malcolm X Building. 
Over the years, the predominantly African American community of Carver has dwindled down to become closer and closer to 50%. In 1980, for example, the number of Carver students who identified as African American was over by about 55% but it then dropped to 48% in 1981 and has continued to become less and less (LA Times, 1991). Although the Carver community is not predominantly African American anymore, it is important to note that Central Avenue was the hub for famous Jazz and Blues musicians, which served as the center for the African American community for entertainment and culture. 
The community has changed over time, but the history does not change and is still honored today. At Carver Middle School, we honor that rich history with numerous murals showing the periods, musicians, and activists of that time on our walls. Some African American families are present and actively involved in the community, but others have opted to move to Moreno Valley, Inland Empire, or other states outside of California. In February of 2022 a new tradition was born, the Black Excellence Festival, which embraces all cultures to celebrate and acknowledge the African American community.
The next chapters of Carver Middle School’s Black history are still being written …