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Reflection on the Launch of TSEHAI’s Harriet Tubman Press Inaugural Book

Loyola Marymount University and TSEHAI Publishers have officially launched the Harriet Tubman Press, a new source for African-American literature and academic works.

By Rachel Mullens (BLARB) |

Hundreds gathered in Leimert Park Plaza in front of the Vision Theater on Saturday, October 14. The day marked the beginning of a year-long celebration in honor of the 20th anniversary of TSEHAI Publishers, the 10th anniversary of TSEHAI Publisher’s partnership with Loyola Marymount University and its Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture, and the Arts, the publication of Voices from Leimert Park Redux, the inaugural book from Harriet Tubman Press, and most importantly the celebration of the true freedom that is born when a collective people is allowed ownership of its own stories.

I had never been to the Leimert Park neighborhood before, and I was elated that-all day parking only cost me $2.50. More important, I gained a deeper appreciation for the history of Los Angeles — a place that does in fact span a much broader square footage to which I am accustomed. Leimert Park is known for its drum circles on Sundays and its tree-lined streets, and is an epicenter for the arts. It challenges the fixed images that we conjure up when we hear those two letters side by side: an endless stream of taillights, the red carpets and sidewalks made for stars, the more memorable scenes from La La Land. People were gathered outside to play music, to walk their dogs, to buy organic produce from supermarket, and merely to connect with one another. I heard multiple people call it the heart of Los Angeles, and I am in agreement; life is palpable here.

A musical performance by The Supa Lowery Brothers kicked off the event, and they provided further entertainment with their musical interludes between panels. Kevin Nash, the golden voice of the local radio station owned by Stevie Wonder, presided as Master of Ceremonies throughout the event. Guests were welcomed by Lane Bove, the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs at Loyola Marymount University. Three panels led by Angela Rye, Principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C., alternated with readings by the featured poets to form the remainder of the event’s programming.