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‘Taste of Soul’ is a True Representation of the Crenshaw Community, Here is Proof

3:35 PM PDT on October 22, 2019

Los Angeles, CA – Oct. 19: Ash’s Friends Bday at in Los Angeles on October 19, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]t was a beautiful day to be at Taste of Soul. The weather was at 80 degrees in the middle of October, and although that might be alarming to some, who can complain when you’re enjoying the sun at an event like this?

The free street festival hosted over 350,000 people in its 14th annual year in a row on the legendary Crenshaw Boulevard, where over 300 vendors highlighted Black American culture through the food, music, art, and merchandise. From incense to BBQ ribs falling off the bone, to murals and portraits of famous Black icons, Taste of Soul continues to sustain the pride and soul of the Crenshaw community. 

As you walked through the crowded sea of people, you would think you were in the latest trendy music festival. There was so much to take in you almost didn’t know where to start. 

With over 150 different types of food to choose from, five stages of musical performances, and a beer garden, it only made sense to stop when something or someone made you do a double-take. Such as all the veteranos in fly sunglasses or people cruising in tricked out bikes and of course, the inevitable flashy lowriders and motorcycles brought to you by none other than the Crenshaw Takeover.

The sounds also varied every few feet you walked. From Motown classics to people doing the electric slide. No matter where you turned, music was there to keep the energy alive and people’s feet moving. 

Perhaps the only triggering and all too familiar sound wavering through the streets was that of a flying helicopter. A strange sight to see when you recall how many other festivals of all sorts you’ve attended where such policing isn’t involved. Especially when you consider the troubling times the Crenshaw community continues to face.

Many members within the community have witnessed the displacement of local residents as gentrification becomes increasingly evident with the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Line. Although the project began in 2014, it is now expected to come to a close in 2020.

While Metro has attempted to work alongside the Crenshaw community, there are concerns by many that their voices have not been heard throughout the planning process, despite the shared excitement of a new and convenient transportation system to the airport that everyone loves to hate. Amongst these efforts, Metro and the County of Los Angeles have partnered together to create a transit-oriented development called Crenshaw Crossing that aims to provide affordable housing, retail space, and community centers. All of which will also provide job opportunities to local residents. 

As for Taste of Soul. It is evident that the event in the Crenshaw community is as popular as it has ever been. It is a true representation of the people and businesses nearby that are truly interested in preserving its existing community through direct involvement and provided opportunities. Whether that’s in the form of men wearing suits in 80-degree weather selling bean pies straight out of their cart or street hustlers selling water bottles, phone cases, and chargers to make a quick buck. 

There is simply no way one could attend Taste of Soul and not see that the Crenshaw community is already here and they are here to stay. You can see it in the way residents sit on their chairs in their front lawns or on the curb as they stare in awe at how many beautiful people live in their neighborhood, and how many others wish they did. 

To catch Taste of Soul next year, make sure to check out their website.

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