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Randolph Dobbs

External Affairs

Like most people in Los Angeles, I stayed home and watched the news in horror wondering how long the rioting would last, how far it would extend from Florence and Normandie where it started and and how many would lose their lives. Buildings next door to my place of worship, the Los Angeles Baha'i Center, were burned to the ground and by the end of the first week in May, members of the Baha'i community were asked to help clean up the remains of the fires lit by rioters starting where the Baha'i Center stands at, then, Rodeo Road (now Obama Blvd) and La Cienega Blvd. going east to Crenshaw Blvd. For the next few days I joined other Baha'is and people from the neighborhood to sweep up what seemed like endless mounds of rubble with broken glass and the charred remains of wooden structures. For the next few days I saw dozens if not hundreds of people doing the same thing: cleaning up the ashes from the fires. It seemed like people of every color and description were finally coming together in unity to do something positive.

In the wake of the riots many positive efforts were initiated to redress the inequities that exist in society and assist with a process of healing from the effects of racism. The Baha'i Center hosted over a hundred non-profit and community-based organizations to consult on ways and means to do so. Members of the Baha'i community in the mental health field offered their services free of charge to families affected by trauma. Out of that effort came The Children's Enrichment Program, an afterschool program intended for grade schoolers and assisting families in need of child care. The program ran for over 20 years at the Baha'i Center serving not just children from the 90s but, in time, the children of graduates from the program as they grew up and started families of their own.

Randolph Dobbs
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