The Little Tokyo Historical Society will host a free presentation by Professor Hillary Jenks on the brief period of Little Tokyo when it was known as Bronzeville.

Hillary Jenks
Hillary Jenks

The event will take place at Far Bar (formerly Far East Café), at 347 E. First St. in Little Tokyo, on Sunday, Oct. 20, from 2 to 3 p.m. Doors open at 1 p.m. and light refreshments will be served immediately after the presentation.

In Los Angeles, both Asian and African Americans faced housing restrictions limiting where they could live, and often shared neighborhoods like West Adams near USC, or Seinan (Southwest) as the Japanese called it. At the onset of World War II, Japanese Americans were removed from the West Coast and incarcerated. As a result, the area most associated with them, Little Tokyo, was left empty, and became Bronzeville, a new home for black war workers arriving in the city.

With tens of thousands of newcomers crowding the old storefronts and hotels, and round-the-clock nightclubs attracting jazz elites and Hollywood luminaries, Bronzeville was a crossroads of wartime L.A. But what would happen when war ended, and the Japanese Americans returned? That period of challenge, conflict, and collaboration left a legacy that shaped the landscape and the social fabric of today’s Los Angeles.

Dr. Jenks is a historian of modern urban America, race relations, and the built environment. Formerly an assistant professor at Portland State University, she received her Ph.D. in American studies and ethnicity in 2008 from the University of Southern California, where she wrote an award-winning dissertation on the history of Little Tokyo within the context of urban development and diversity in the U.S. West.

While doing her dissertation studies, Jenks was one of the founding members of the Little Tokyo Historical Society and attended many Little Tokyo activities.

LTHS focuses on researching and discovering the historical resources, stories, and connections of sites, buildings, and events related to Little Tokyo as an ethnic heritage neighborhood. It is committed to documenting and verifying history of locales, sites, and buildings, as well as preserving and sharing the history and personal stories of Little Tokyo and its residents.

It should be noted that the presentation will be held in the historic Far East Café building, which dates back to the 19th century and is recognized as part of the Little Tokyo National Historic Landmark District.

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