By Ariyana Griffin
LEIMERT PARK — DeMarco Smith has released the first of a three-part history book titled “South Central Is Mecca.” The first part of the trilogy covers the years 1900-1977.
He hosted an event at Aziz Gallerie Aug. 6 to celebrate the book’s release and offer an exclusive look at the documentary that parallels it.
“South Central Is Mecca” covers various historical events and highlights key businesses, buildings and people that have shaped Los Angeles. The Great Migration, Compton College, War on Drugs, Bunchy Carter and Hawkins House of Burgers are just some of the historically significant topics covered through photographs and print.
The book release allowed people to mingle, read, purchase the book, network and ask Smith questions about things related to the book or documentary.
“I had seen some of my friends posting about [the event] online, and I wanted to come check it out,” said Rob Sherrell, who attended the event. “I’m not a Los Angeles native; I moved here about five years ago. I didn’t think it is a bad thing to learn about the history and the place where you are living.
Sherrell said he feels the book is essential because it allows him to learn more about the roots of the place he will call home for the foreseeable future.
In 2020, Smith began sharing rare Black history facts online that gained major traction.
“I would provide a sense of recreational fun during this virtual phase of no physical contact and highlight local businesses via the LA Trivia Game,” he said.
His online game turned history book even helped a few businesses gain foot traffic during the pandemic. Smith’s online presence grew as he advocated and campaigned for Bruce’s Beach to be returned to its original family owners and his uncle Corvain Cooper being granted clemency after being sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent crime.
“This led to supporters basically telling me why don’t I stop tweeting free stories and content and just make a coffee table book that the people can support, which creates a high demand but no supply,” Smith said.
He took the advice seriously, leading to him writing five history books in two years. Smith also collaborated with Watts advocate WattsStix to create a photo coffee table book, “Megawatts The Motherland,” with quotes from prominent Watts natives.
“I took the entire year off from being outside or even seen by family, relocated and wrote my upcoming and final history book series titled “StoLAnd Greatness,” he said.
Smith and his team at Maintain The Mystery “created an investment package as a homage to Nipsey Hussle’s proud to pay business model born from the $100 Crenshaw Mixtape,” he said. His $111 price point allowed his supporters to become local investors in upcoming projects.
Smith, a screenwriter, filmmaker, author and historian, has a passion for telling stories.
“I have so many stories to tell and explore that I want to reach my highest potential creatively and film is the best medium,” he said. “It gives me the room to do that and showcase all sides of me, my community, my people and provide a much needed breath of fresh air in terms of perspective and outlook.”
You can follow him on Instagram @Demarcosmith and @MaintaintheMystery and you can purchase “South Central Is Mecca” online at Maintainthemystery.com.