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Four people, four stories: Horace Penman

Horace Penman
Living in South Central for about 50 years, Penman has seen many changes in his community.

By Ebony Bailey

Horace Penman is a retired community activist who has lived in South Central for more than 45 years.

He grew up in Ohio, and moved to Los Angeles when he was in his 20s to work and volunteer.

“I have had a lot of input in the development of the area,” he said.

He lived through the days of jazz and swing, race-restrictive zoning, “De Facto” segregation, race-restrictive zoning, the LA riots, and more.

During his time in South LA, he noticed a series of demographic changes, including “white flight” mid-century and the inward migration of African Americans, and the growth of the Latino population in recent decades.

“The African Americans became very strong on occupying the area,” he said. He says that this preservation is still present despite most of the African American population moving out.

He worked at LAUSD for more than 20 years as an instructional coordinator for McKinley avenue elementary school. He has also volunteered at the fire department, community centers, and founded a neighborhood council in South Central.

“When you’ve lived here as long as I have, you look back, appreciate it, and grow old gracefully,” he said.