Thursday, March 27, 1:30-4pm
Estelle Van Meter Multipurpose Center
7600 South Avalon Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90001
I am happy to announce the opening of my new project, a tribute to Estelle Van Meter. You can learn something about this remarkable woman in the brief bio below written by Tami Outterbridge for the project:
Mrs. Estelle Wilhelmina Van Meter (November 8, 1907 â€“ December 9, 1998) was an activist known for her tireless efforts to improve life in South Los Angeles. Sheâ€™s described as â€œan unrelenting forceâ€ and â€œa great voice of South Central L.A.â€
Born in Woodville, Mississippi, Mrs. Van Meter first worked as a domestic. In the 1930s, like many African Americans, she migrated west seeking better opportunities. Arriving in the City of Angels, she was struck by the beauty and aura of safety. She worked in catering at the Hollywood Bowl, but fixed her eyes on higher things, later becoming a successful real estate broker.
Eventually, the neighborhood that had felt so safe changed. Debris and liquor stores littered the community. Gang violence, drugs and prostitution reigned. Instead of shutting in, she reached out, boldly prodding city leadership into action. Politicians, school officials, mayors, fire captains, police chiefs and clergy regularly strolled across her flower-potted porch for lunches of fine food and fresh ideas. Her home became a hybrid hospitality center and war room where leaders broke bread and strategized. She pushed, but she also praised, founding the 77th Street Dames, an active police support group. She became famous as â€œthe lady no one wanted to say no to.â€ As a result, school conditions improved, patrols increased, neighborhood watches formed, trash disappeared and drug havens folded.
In 1983, the Estelle Van Meter Multi-Purpose Center opened, offering many a home away from home. Reflecting her life of service, her final request was that the Center continue, and it has; providing meals, classes and services to the multi-cultural community. Her motto was: Everyone must feel comfortable here. On her behalf, Welcome.
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