By Ariyana Griffin
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — The author of a history book about South Los Angeles is sharing it with students at a local middle school.
DeMarco Smith, the author of a three-part history book titled “South Central Is Mecca,” announced that the book will be partnering with Audubon Middle School. The collaborative effort was put forth by his team, which consists of Miriam Haregot, Jared McGhee and Kleshaam Shakir.
The collaboration will extend over the period of five weeks and the team will meet with the students every Friday. The “South Central is Mecca” experience will include lessons based around the history covered in the book. It’s a vivid curriculum parallelling the book’s journey through L.A.’s history from 1900-1977 as well as some modern takes.
“South Central Is Mecca” covers various historical events through print and photos while highlighting key businesses, buildings and people that have shaped Los Angeles. The book also captures the historic significance of landmarks in the community such as Jesse Owens Park, Compton College, the Great Migration and Fresh and Meaty.
Haregot started the process of getting into a school in the Los Angeles Unified School District last October and after trying at multiple schools she ultimately progressed with Audubon Middle School.
“I had to be super patient with the process, it literally was not an overnight thing,” she said. She explained that while in the process of creating the book with Smith, they always had a goal of integrating “South Central Is Mecca” into the Los Angeles school system.
They are looking forward to teaching the students about the history of Los Angeles through a hands-on, interactive and multimedia approach through Smith’s film producer background. They put an emphasis on providing the students with the tools they need to be creative during their time with them.
Earlier this year, the team collaborated with Haregot’s nonprofit P.A.C.K Project at The Beehive, a venue space located in South L.A., to provide community members with a coloring book version of the history book, illustrated by McGhee.
“I not only get to put forth my artistic value but I also get to learn as I’m creating,” McGhee said. This same coloring book will be introduced to students at Audubon Middle School during their classroom sessions as a way to help the students maintain the historic information while having fun.
They hope the students take away a sense of pride in their community after their time in the classrooms.
“I hope they get inspired enough to really dig in and do whatever they can to put forth as much energy as they can,” McGhee added. “The youth has an abundance of energy that this city really needs right now.
Smith is excited to teach the next generation and inspire them by allowing them to see themselves in history.
“I am a South Central native,” he said. “They get to see me and touch me and can be like oh snap, this could be my cousin or brother,” he said.
He is looking forward to being a tangible representation that the students can see themselves in.
The team is looking forward to integrating the history books into other LAUSD classrooms soon to continue their dedication to history and the community. Smith also shared that the second book of the trilogy is expected to be published later this year.