In 2020, in response to the nationwide dialogue on race and equity, and as part of a long-term effort to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, the City of Glendale took a historic step of reckoning. It became the first city in California and the third in the nation, to pass a sundown town resolution based on a review and report of available historic documents to identify and understand Glendale’s history. Sundown towns kept African Americans and other people of color from living in certain communities through formal and informal methods in a purposeful effort to maintain a white population. The resolution acknowledges and apologizes for Glendale’s racist past and pledges to work towards an anti-racist future. Additionally, the resolution acknowledges the local history of the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi party and other white supremacist groups and recognizes that redlining, a process that restricted access to African Americans and minorities to certain neighborhoods, was prevalent in the City for decades. The resolution was a historic moment of reckoning for the City of Glendale. This exhibition provides a historical and contemporary narrative to accompany this critical moment.
Reckoning: Racism & Resistance in Glendale explores Glendale’s racist history of anti-Blackness and the resistance to that racism through rarely accessed archival photos and documents from Glendale Central Library’s archives. Due to a scarcity of Black voices and content in the archives, “Reckoning” includes interviews with contemporary scholars and local activists who contextualize and connect the historical material to the present-day. Rather than providing a comprehensive history of systemic racism and anti-Blackness, “Reckoning” is designed to be a tool for discovery and further research in the work towards an anti-racist future.
Reckoning: Racism & Resistance in Glendale unfolds through six weekly “episodes.” Each episode is accessed through an interactive digital “portal” image of a location in current-day Glendale related to the city’s racist history. The exhibit will grow and evolve over several months in 2021 to include a city-wide public art installation by local artist and educator April Bey, a collaboration with Glendale Unified School District engaging high school students as viewers and contributors. a virtual exhibition of contemporary works by Black artists, and a celebration of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Reckoning: Racism & Resistance in Glendale is envisioned and designed to remain online and accessible to local, national and global audiences into the future. It presents a dark and often violent history of hatred and racial exclusion in Glendale based on historical record. But, more importantly, the exhibition speaks to the critical moment of collective reckoning that we are experiencing as a nation.
The City of Glendale acknowledges the Tongva, Tataviam, and Chumash peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). We are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land that has been stewarded by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years.
Our heartfelt thanks to the following people for their guidance and their contributions to this exhibition:
Tara Peterson, Professor Steven J. Ross, Gary Keyes, Dr. Christopher D. West, Tanita Harris-Ligons, Tasha Morgan Jenkins, the Anderson Family (Nabulunji, Shahid, Shabaz, Garvey,) and Gabrielle Scott.
Historical materials in this exhibit come from the Glendale Library, Arts & Culture History Room and the following generous sources:
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Public Library
Orange County Register
Southern California News Group
University of California, Los Angeles
California State University, Northridge
Hoover Institution Library & Archives at Stanford University
Los Angeles Sentinel
Carl Albert Congressional Research & Studies Center
Richard & Elizabeth Berry
SCVTV Media Center
KPFK Los Angeles
LA Weekly & Semanal Media LLC
The Spokesman Review & Cowles Company
Any materials under copyright in this exhibit are covered by the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act. Permission and preferred attribution were requested of all copyright holders.
Brand Library & Art Center and ReflectSpace Gallery
Shannon Currie Holmes, Ara Oshagan, Anahid Oshagan
Holli Teltoe, Shannon Brogan, Greg Gonzalez, Shannon Currie Holmes
Exhibition Text: Shannon Brogan, Greg Gonzalez, Shannon Currie Holmes
Erin Stone, Trent Sneed, Gegham Sargsyan, Anastasia Denos
Anna Wittenberg, Erin Stone, Anahid Oshagan
Citation, Editing, and Writing Assistance:
Shannon Brogan, Greg Gonzalez, Erin Herzog, Caley Cannon, Nicole Pasini
Reckoning: Racism & Resistance in Glendale is presented by Glendale Library Arts & Culture, with support from the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission, the Glendale Library Arts & Culture Trust and the Brand Associates.