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California Right now: Meet Biddy Mason, a Black Girl Who Helped Construct Los Angeles


Good morning.

(Right here’s the sign-up, for those who don’t already get California Right now by electronic mail.)

While you consider the people who constructed Los Angeles, the names that most probably bounce to thoughts — William Mulholland, the Chandlers — are sometimes these of white males. It’s not stunning, and it’s commonplace amongst American cities.

That’s why, once I heard Laura Atkins, a Berkeley-based youngsters’s e-book writer, point out Bridge Mason, often known as Biddy, on an episode of the podcast East Bay Yesterday, I took word.

Ms. Mason, she stated, had been born enslaved, received her freedom in a California courtroom within the mid-1850s and ultimately grew to become a outstanding downtown L.A. landowner — to not point out the rising metropolis’s richest lady.

She organized the town’s First A.M.E. church and was a philanthropist.

It’s Black Historical past Month, so I’ve been desirous about what it means to honor the legacies of people whom historical past has historically overlooked.

Ms. Atkins and Arisa White, a poet, have written a e-book about Ms. Mason’s life, “Biddy Mason Speaks Up,” a part of a sequence about civil rights leaders. So I requested them how they determined to write down about her and about alternative ways of desirous about historic figures.

“A lot of what we thought about was the idea of the kind of linear, heroic narrative, where there’s one singular person who saves the day, versus more of a feminist recovery project,” Ms. White stated. “We have to amass Biddy Mason’s story by pulling through different threads.”

The e-book, which is illustrated by Laura Freeman, alternates between a story instructed from Ms. Mason’s perspective and pages which can be full of definitions of phrases like “power,” “race,” and “westward expansion,” in addition to timelines and dialogue questions for readers about how these themes play out in their very own lives.

On one web page, the authors ask: “Have you ever been taken away from someone you love?”

On one other: “What does freedom mean to you?”

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Biddy Mason

Ms. White stated she was additionally excited to spotlight a special manner of constructing wealth. Ms. Mason labored as a midwife and a healer who used natural treatments her enslaved grandmother had taught her.

Amongst her purchasers have been a few of L.A.’s richest residents, together with Pio Pico, the final governor of Mexican California.

“It’s bringing to life a different kind of intelligence that I don’t think young readers access when they think about enslaved people,” she stated.

Ms. Atkins stated she knew that the concept of reframing historical past by a feminist, collectivist lens may sound just a little too, nicely, Berkeley for lots of educators.

However she stated she had been heartened by the response.

“We’ve gotten some real love from people out in the world and appreciation for the way it empowers students to engage,” she stated.

(A word: We frequently link to content material on websites that restrict entry for nonsubscribers. We respect your reading Times tales, however we’d additionally encourage you to assist native information for those who can.)

• “There is a crisis here but it has nothing to do with immigration.” How the New River, which Mexico treats as a drain, brings noxious waste and air pollution into the Imperial Valley. Residents say their well being is struggling because of this. [The New York Times]

• Two transgender ladies from Honduras joined a migrant caravan. Just one survived the grueling 2,700-mile journey to San Francisco. Their plight illustrates the risks for L.G.B.T. migrants, who typically face violence and discrimination of their house nations. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

• Congressional negotiations over a border safety deal broke down on Sunday, forward of deadlines meant to avert one other authorities shutdown. The deadlock seems to heart on Democrats’ calls for that there be a restrict to the variety of unauthorized immigrants already within the nation who might be detained by ICE officers. [The New York Times]

• Michael Moore, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, defended an elite division of officers that an investigation discovered had been profiling black drivers. His feedback got here not lengthy after Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the division to cut back car stops in response to the findings. [The Los Angeles Times]

• California Republicans are in search of a brand new get together chair. After stinging losses in November, some are pushing to double down on President Trump’s agenda. But when they try this, one strategist stated, “It’s over.” [The Los Angeles Times]

• As Silicon Valley’s present crop of extremely valued start-ups (suppose Uber and Airbnb) mature and put together to go public, alternatives to disrupt established industries are fewer and farther between. [The New York Times]

• So what is going to the subsequent crop of “unicorns” appear to be? Listed here are 50 start-ups which may match the invoice. [The New York Times]

Allensworth, a southern San Joaquin Valley city, was based as a type of refuge from racism and segregation. It’s the one one in California that was constructed, financed and residential to African People. At its peak within the early 20th century, it was a thriving group. Right here’s its fascinating story. [The Fresno Bee]

Tet in Orange County isn’t your great-grandmother’s competition. Over time, it’s turn out to be half county truthful, half seashore get together — and that’s not a foul factor. [The Los Angeles Times]

• So, like, there’s a brand new artwork exhibit in Glendale that explores what it means to be a Valley woman. However, like, truly — not simply the stereotypes. [The New Yorker]

Samin Nosrat visited her pal Hrishikesh Hirway in L.A. for home made mango pie. Right here’s the recipe for the very American dish impressed by Indian aunties. [The New York Times]

The Grammy Awards are marketed as “music’s biggest night.”

However just like the Oscars, the Recording Academy has struggled to hold onto cultural relevance within the face of controversy and a altering business.

Lots of music’s greatest names (Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Ariana Grande) have been absent. And despite the fact that the telecast was hosted by Alicia Keys and was stacked with robust performances by feminine artists, it was powerful to neglect that the Academy was atoning for its outgoing president’s assertion final 12 months that ladies have to “step up,” in response to claims that it had ignored their work.

My colleague Jon Pareles wrote, “Year after year, I have dutifully watched the Grammy Awards. And the next morning, year after year, I have wondered why.”

Nonetheless, the awards shine a worthwhile highlight on lesser identified artists, like Ángela Aguilar, an Angeleno who was this 12 months’s youngest nominee.

If you wish to catch up, discover The Times’s protection right here. And listed here are all of the winners.

California Right now goes reside at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to highschool at U.C. Berkeley and has reported everywhere in the state, together with the Bay Space, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — however she at all times needs to see extra. Observe alongside right here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.

California Right now is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.





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Updated: February 11, 2019 — 3:47 pm

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