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NAJEE’S NOTES: Group forms to fight pandemic in South L.A.

Coronavirus, the pandemic, is without question a concern that the entire nation is reeling from.

As of this writing, there have been 217,324 confirmed cases of the virus with 8,917 deaths globally.

The silent virus doesn’t discriminate. The rich and famous are not immune.

Everyone from NBA superstar Kevin Durant and three of his teammates have tested positive for the virus. Hollywood stars Idris Elba, Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson have also tested positive.

Locally, the virus has crippled our city with Mayor Eric Garcetti signing an executive order earlier this week which closed bars and nightclubs, dine-in restaurants (except those that sell food for takeout only), gyms and fitness studios, entertainment venues which include movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades and live performance venues. All LAUSD schools are now closed, which has been a child care nightmare for working parents.

The African-American community in South L.A. has survived everything from the crack cocaine epidemic to the mass incarceration of black men and women from our community. No matter what crisis we have had to endure, we always have had leadership that was more than capable of rising to the challenge.

We have been blessed to have legendary leaders such as John Mack, Rev. Cecil “Chip “Murray, Celes King, Mayor Tom Bradley and Melanie Lomax. But with those leaders either retired or passed away, A new era of South L.A. leaders has emerged front and center to face the greatest crisis of our lifetime.

Robert Sausedo, CEO of Community Build, has launched the community response system for South Los Angeles, along with other community-based organizations, churches and stakeholders, which is being formed to address community needs of South Los Angeles residents in wake of the pandemic.

This coalition will address the current community needs in South Los Angeles. Services include emergency operations centers, medical triage, distribution centers and command centers. 

The community response system will support the various government agencies responsible to address and deploy resources throughout South Los Angeles.

As community relations ambassador for Operation Hope, I accepted the invitation to join and work with the coalition. I first met Sausedo in 1993, when we were fellow activists who volunteered to successfully secure funding and helped make improvements to the Vassie D. Wright Memorial Branch Library in the Jefferson Park area.

Sausedo was the strategist back then, always low key and humble, more comfortable with being in the background than in the spotlight. Now Sausedo has emerged to become the man in the arena.

He has pulled together some of the best and brightest leaders who represent the tried and true leadership of South L.A. I don’t know what our future holds, but no matter what we’ll get through it together. (Yes, I borrowed that line from Captain America, but I mean it.)

For more information to join our movement. www.crssla.org.