Black L.A., 1947: Sentinel Reports on City’s Segregated Fire Department

L.A. Sentinel, 1947, Engine Co. 30.
Oct. 9, 1947, L.A. Sentinel
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Engine Co. 30 in 1947, top, and via Google Street View.

Oct. 9, 1947: The Sentinel reports on segregation in the Los Angeles Fire Department. Sentinel Publisher Leon H. Washington Jr. said that because of segregation, “there are a number of qualified Negro firemen on the list who must wait until one of the present firemen dies or retires before they will be appointed to jobs.”

Washington said the black community was mainly served by two “colored companies” at 14th and Central — now the African American Firefighter Museum — and at 34th and Central.

The story noted that 50,000 homes were built in the last four years and under the jurisdiction of Engine Co. 65 at 103rd and Compton. “Under the Fire Department job-by-complexion system, this is an all-white station in spite of the fact that the community is 98% Negro and Mexican,” Washington said.

“Restrictive covenants force Negroes to live in ghettos. Many landlords, realizing this fact, spend little or nothing on improvement of their property. Spot zoning comparable to that which permitted the O’Connor Electro-Plating Co. disaster makes the Negro community one of the vulnerable districts for fires and combustible explosions.”

“While Negro firemen are barred from stations in white neighborhoods, at least three all-white stations are maintained in neighborhoods that are predominantly colored,” Washington said.



Oct. 9, 1947, L.A. Sentinel

Oct. 9, 1947, L.A. Sentinel
The firehouse at 34th and Central was one of two African American companies serving the black community, the Sentinel said.


L.A. Sentinel, 1947

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, African Americans, Fires, Museums and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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