Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center: Alton Wooten Jr. would have been 64 years old today if not for his murder in 1989


Alton Wooten Jr. would have been 64 years old today if not for his murder in 1989.

“Dunnie” was killed at age 35 in a drive-by shooting near Adams and Crenshaw. Police said it was a gang initiation. This is his senior photo from Gardena High School.

 Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center History

“I see my son in the eyes of every child I meet.”

​In January 1989, Alton “Dunnie” Wooten, Jr. was killed in a drive-by shooting near Adams and Crenshaw in South-Central Los Angeles.  The murder of the 35-year-old black man was said to be the result of a gang initiation. Drive-by shootings were at a height when Dunnie was killed. Community members started programs like “Taking Back Our Community” and “Mothers Against Gangs in Communities” out of a desperate attempt to stop the violence.  “Gang sweeps” by police officers and tougher penalties for youth offenders also emerged.  But Dunnie’s mother felt that the solutions only angered already rebellious youth.


“What they need is love and attention,” said Myrtle Faye Rumph. “They need to stay busy. They need to have more confidence. They need to have their attitudes changed. If somebody had taken more time with the person who killed my son, maybe my son would still be alive.”

​With that, Faye set out on a journey that would bring her many sons and daughters. She decided to open a youth center. Faye started holding meetings in her home two weeks after her son’s death. She invited family and friends to help develop her vision for a positive response to her son’s murder. ​Ted Hayes of Home for the Homeless was Dunnie’s close friend. Dunnie had had his own troubles before meeting Ted and changing his life. In his last years, Dunnie worked with Home for the Homeless attending public meetings and protests. Ted attended Dunnie’s funeral and repast. There, Faye told him she wanted to honor her son in a way that would make him proud. Ted agreed to chair the weekly living room discussions, where he pointed out the need for sacrifice and diligence.

After three months, the group started taking kids from a local church on field trips. They also attended various community meetings and consulted with directors of other nonprofit agencies to see what else was being done. Finding only five youth centers in the city, including People Who Care and four Teen Posts, in 1990 Faye rented a two-room storefront at 9115 S. Western Ave., next door to the moving and storage business she owned with her husband, Harris Rumph. She called the people from her living room discussions to return and help open the youth center they had talked about. The group helped clean and furnish the building, also forming a board that later named the new nonprofit agency the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center to remind people of the legacy that led to the center’s existence. ​

The Wooten Center’s first field trip (left) was to Los Angeles City Hall with Councilman Robert Farrell, who had provided buses for the trips before our opening. Due to increased enrollment, after two years helping with homework and reading, taking kids to the local bowling alley, playing board games, celebrating holidays with families, and holding discussions about tagging, drugs and gang violence, the center expanded into a second adjacent building. The civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1992 drew many more caring people who became long-time supporters, including several of our current board members and volunteers.

Today, the Wooten Center is housed in five storefront buildings (right) across the street from our original site. Presented as an example of “something positive” in the aftermath of the 1992 unrest, the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Parent Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Wave Newspapers, on the Today Show, BET, VH-1, KCAL-TV, KABC-TV, KNBC-TV, KCBS-TV, KTTV-TV and a host of other media. In 2010, President Barack Obama named Faye one of 13 recipients of the annual Presidential Citizens Medal, our nation’s second highest civilian award, for her work founding the Wooten Center.

​Twenty years after the death of her son, Faye retired as board president in 2009 at age 79. She was still involved at the center attending events and meetings, and visiting and encouraging students until her homegoing on January 7, 2015.

Learn more about the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center at


Menswear Expert Sid Mashburn Shares His Spring and Summer Shoe Essential – Espadrilles


When it comes to shoes, Mashburn’s pick is an unlined pair of espadrilles, like the Sid Mashburn Slip-On Espadrille in suede ($150). “What’s really fantastic [about this shoe], is how comfortable they are because they are unlined. They feel like a vacation shoe,” he explains. Mashburn loves this particular style because it “has a rope edge and a rubber sole, so it doesn’t feel as delicate as a pair of typical espadrilles can feel.” (



Ciara and Russell Wilson welcome baby girl


Ciara and Russell Wilson’s baby girl is here.

The singer and her Seattle Seahawks quarterback husband welcomed their new baby Friday, the couple announced on their social media accounts.
“Dear Sienna Princess Wilson. No matter how big the wave, we will always be your calm in the storm. We Love You,” Ciara wrote on Instagram under a picture of her at the beach.
The baby girl weighed in at 7 pounds and 13 ounces, the singer wrote.
It’s the couple’s first child together. They married last year, and used Instagram in October to announce they were expecting a baby.
The “1, 2 Step” singer has a son from a previous relationship with rapper Future.
Before announcing her latest pregnancy, Ciara said that having her first son was “game changing for my life as a woman.”

Beyoncé Is Starting A Scholarship For Woke Women In College

“Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.”

Beyoncé is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her earth-shattering visual album “Lemonade” by helping young women pay for college.



The singer announced her new program Formation Scholars on Monday, named after her powerfully pro-black single “Formation.” The program, as a part of her #BeyGood initiative, will award young ladies “who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident” for the 2017-2018 school year.


One student from each participating school ― Berklee College of Music, Parsons School of Design and historically black college or universities Howard University and Spelman College ― will be selected. Formation Scholars will give four scholarships to an incoming, current or graduate student studying creative arts, music, literature or African-American studies.

Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” which recently earned the artist a Peabody award, has made an impact on college campuses before. In September, University of Texas at San Antonio offered a class on the album. Proffessors at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga dedicated a full week of workshops to unpacking the album and black womanhood.


Hands down, “Lemonade” is the gift that keeps on giving.


Beyoncé Wins Prestigious Peabody Award for Lemonade

It’s been a great year so far for Beyoncé.

Not only do she and Jay Z get to welcome twins this summer, but the pregnant star has been honored with a prestigious Peabody Award for her HBO visual album Lemonade.

Once known as the “Pulitzer Prizes for Radio,” the Peabody Awards recognize excellence in television, radio and digital broadcasting. Beyoncé is among seven honorees in the Entertainment category to be named to be part of the Peabody Awards’ inaugural Peabody 30, honoring programming in news, radio/podcast, web and public service.

Lemonade draws from the prolific literary, musical, cinematic, and aesthetic sensibilities of black cultural producers to create a rich tapestry of poetic innovation,” organizers said in a statement. “The audacity of its reach and fierceness of its vision challenges our cultural imagination, while crafting a stunning and sublime masterpiece about the lives of women of color and the bonds of friendship seldom seen or heard in American popular culture.”


TV L.A. riots: A guide to the TV documentaries marking 25 years


Two and a half decades ago, a powder keg of racial tension, economic inequality, and institutional dysfunction exploded in Los Angeles when a jury acquitted four police officers of beating Rodney King. People are still trying to make sense of the 1992 L.A. riots, which claimed at least 58 lives, injured more than 2,000, caused an estimated $1 billion in damage, and continue to reverberate to this day.

Over the next two weeks, five television documentaries will reflect on the roots, details, and legacy of the riots. Here’s a guide to what’s in store.

Burn, Motherf‑‑‑er, Burn!

Channel: Showtime
Air date: April 21
Running time: 90 minutes
What you should know: This documentary from director Sacha Jenkins (Fresh Dressed) examines the riots through the lens of the long, fraught relationship between the Los Angeles Police Department and the city’s black and other minority communities. Looking back to the 1962 raid of a Nation of Islam mosque, the 1965 Watts riots, and the rise of street gangs in the 1970s and ’80s, Burn illuminates the root causes of the ’92 riots as well as the ongoing national debate about race relations and police brutality. Interviews feature three generations of local residents, community organizers, artists, and influencers.

The Lost Tapes: L.A. Riots

Channel: Smithsonian
Air date: April 23
Running time: 60 minutes
What you should know: The latest installment of Smithsonian’s Lost Tapes series recounts the chaos of the riots entirely through archival materials, including news footage, home videos, photographs, and LAPD recordings. Bringing unique perspectives to the project are previously unreleased dispatch calls from the Los Angeles Fire Department, in which firefighters are heard pleading for police backup while being fired upon, as well as recordings from the Compton radio station KJLH, which dropped its music format in favor of news coverage and discussion for three pivotal days.

Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992

Channel: ABC
Air date: April 28
Running time: 120 minutes
What you should know: With screen projects such as American Crime and 12 Years a Slave, writer-director John Ridley has proved himself to be a fierce and fearless storyteller who digs deep into issues of race and class. In Let It Fall, he begins a decade before the ’92 riots and shares the stories of a diverse cross-section of individuals caught up in the rising tensions. Interview subjects hail from the black, white, Latino, and Asian-American communities, as well as the ranks of law enforcement and city government.

L.A. 92

Channel: National Geographic
Air date: April 30
Running time: 120 minutes
What you should know: As with The Lost Tapes, NatGeo’s L.A. 92 is told solely through news footage, radio reports, and amateur video, without narration or talking-head interviews. Directed by the Oscar-winning duo of Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin (Undefeated), the documentary weaves different vantage points together into a candid, multifaceted chronicle of civil unrest.

Soul Singer Cuba Gooding Sr. Found Dead in His Car

Cuba Gooding Sr. was found dead in his car in Los Angeles, according to ABC. He was 72 .

The soul singer was reportedly found slumped over inside his car in Woodland Hills, Calif. at 12:58 p.m. on Thursday, but he could not be resuscitated by CPR. A spokesperson with the Los Angeles Fire Department would not confirm Gooding Sr’s identity, but confirmed to Variety that they responded to a call on Ventura Blvd. and determined the death of an adult male at that same time.

The 72-year-old was most famous for his 1972 hit “Everybody Plays the Fool,” as the lead singer of the band The Main Ingredient.


But he may best be known as the father of his namesake, Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr., as well as three other children.


ABC says that police are still investigating the cause of death.

Cuba Gooding sang lead on hits by the Main Ingredient, including the gold singles “Everybody Plays the Fool” and their remake of “I Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely.” His sons, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Omar Gooding are TV and film actors. Cuba Jr. starred in the movies Boyz ‘N the Hood, A Few Good Men, Outbreak, Judgment Day, and won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in Jerry Maguire. Gooding’s agile tenor worked well on the group’s pop love songs and their inspirational-themed material, like “Shame on the World,” “Rolling Down a Mountainside,” and Brian Auger’s “Happiness Is Just Around the Bend.” Motown alumnus Leon Ware co-wrote two of their best tracks, “Rolling Down a Mountainside” and “Instant Love.”

Gooding, born April 27, 1944, in New York City, grew up with Tony Sylvester, Luther Simmons, Jr., and Donald McPherson in Harlem. Sylvester, Simmons, and McPherson formed the vocal group the Poets in the mid-’60s. They released singles on legendary songwriter/production team Leiber & Stoller‘s Red Bird label: “Merry Christmas Baby” and “I’m Stuck on You.” As the Insiders, the group signed with RCA Records and their label debut was the single “I’m Better Off Without You” b/w “I’m Just a Man” followed by “If You Had a Heart.” Changing their name to the Main Ingredient, they began to have hits, starting with “You’ve Been My Inspiration,” a remake of the Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions hit “I’m So Proud,” “Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love),” a cover of Bread‘s number onehit “Make It With You,” and “Black Seeds Keep on Growing.” McPherson sang lead on all the group’s hits, but when he became too ill to tour, Gooding, who contributed background vocals on their records, sang lead during the Main Ingredient‘s live concerts. Though the group believed he would return, Donald McPherson died of leukemia on July 4,1971.

With Cuba Gooding on lead vocals, the Main Ingredient had their first million-selling single with “Everybody Plays the Fool,” which hit number three pop and held the number two R&B spot for two weeks on Billboard’s charts in fall 1972. The follow-up, “You’ve Got to Take It (If You Want It),” was included on the album Bitter Sweet, which hit number ten R&B in summer 1972. Their next LP, Afrodisiac, peaked at number 16 R&B in spring 1973 and included their rendition of the Stevie Wonder song “Girl Blue.” The group did two more Wonder tunes on the LP, “Superwoman” and “Where Were You When I Needed You”; all were recorded by Wonder on his Music of My Mind LP.

The group produced their 1974 LP Euphrates River, which included their second million-seller, a cover of Ronnie Dyson‘s 1973 hit “I Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely” (number eight R&B, number ten pop); the sumptuous disco classic “Happiness Is Just Around the Bend,” which bopped to number seven R&B; and “California My Way.” Tony Sylvester left the group to become a record producer and Carl Thompkins joined the group. Teaming with arranger/producer Bert DeCoteaux as Tony “Champagne” Sylvester, he had hits with Sister Sledge (“Love Don’t Go Through No Changes on Me”), Ben E. King (“Supernatural Thing” and “Do It in the Name of Love”), and Linda Lewis. Rolling Down a Mountainside was the title of their 1975 LP (number three R&B, spring 1975) and of the title track single that hit number seven R&B. “Shame on the World” the single peaked at number 20 R&B, while the Shame on the World LP made it to number 27 R&B in late 1975.

In 1977, Gooding signed as a solo artist with Motown Records. Amid much anticipation and critical raves, his solo debut, The 1st Album, produced by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter (Tavares, the Four Tops), was released in spring 1978 with only one single, “Mind Pleaser,” charting number 91 R&B in spring 1978. Another Motown LP, Love Dancer, produced by Michael Lovesmith, was issued in spring 1979.

Gooding re-teamed with Sylvester and Simmons, recording the Main Ingredient LPs Ready For Love (RCA, fall 1980) and the Patrick Adams-produced I Only Eyes for You (RCA, late 1981). Gooding recorded a remake of “Happiness Is Just Around the Bend” for Streetwise Records, which became a huge dance hit in late 1983. Simmons left the act and was replaced by Jerome Jackson with the group recording the 1989 Polydor album I Just Wanna Love You.

Aaron Neville‘s cover of “Everybody Plays the Fool” hit number eight pop in summer 1991 and by happenstance rejuvenated interest in the Main Ingredient‘s original version and Gooding‘s career. Gooding released another solo album in 1993, Meant to Be in Love.

In early 2000, Cuba Gooding was touring in the inspirational/gospel play Be Careful What You Pray For with Shirley Murdock and David Peaston as well as performing in venues as Cuba Gooding, Sr. and the Main Ingredient.



Steve Ballmer puts the entire government in a spreadsheet

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn’t satisfied with owning the Los Angeles Clippers and teaching at Stanford and USC.

He’s also trying to improve political discourse by making government financial data easier to access. And he’s doing it by publishing data structured similarly to the 10-K filings companies issue each year — expenses, revenues and key metrics pulled from dozens of government data sources and compiled into a single massive collection of tables.

Companies typically organize revenue into segments, and Ballmer’s USAFacts team has done the same. The U.S. government “10-K” pulls its segments from the missions mandated by the preamble to the Constitution:

 Establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility
  • Provide for the common defense
  • Promote the general welfare
  • Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Here’s how the spending on those missions has increased over the last few decades:

The most expensive mission of the United States, according to Ballmer’s breakdown, is securing the blessings of liberty. That includes the nearly $800 billion in government spending on education at the state and local level, programs like Social Security and Medicare, programs advancing civil rights and economic mobility, as well as environmental protection and agriculture.

Promoting the general welfare encompasses programs maintaining standards of living like public housing and transfer programs, public health initiatives, economic programs and government-run businesses like post offices and hospitals. The armed forces, foreign affairs and border security fall under the “common defense” mission, while the justice system, consumer safeguards, child safety and emergency services are in the segment dedicated to establishing justice.

The nearly 300-slide USAFacts Powerpoint document shared with CNBC also lays out hundreds of other metrics, including population data and employment by segment.

Ballmer’s lengthy report contains definitions and data but no policy recommendations or other analysis to help readers interpret the data. Even corporate 10-Ks generally walk the reader through the management’s narrative about what happened within the company that year.

That lack of analysis is by design — the group’s mission is to provide a “common set of facts on which even people with opposing points of view can agree” while avoiding financial or political agendas. So USAFacts can provide data on immigration apprehensions, small business loans, union membership, poverty rates and countless other measurements of government activity, but it won’t tell you what those data mean — Ballmer expects citizens to figure that out for themselves.

“I just think it’s important if you are going to make your case, for you to make your case in the context of numbers,” Ballmer told Bloomberg when he announced the project last year. “Here are the numbers. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. You don’t have to be an economist. You decide what you believe. And when things come up that you need to vote on, you need to opine on, you’ll have the view of a citizen that’s informed by facts.”

A dedicated USAFacts website went live Tuesday morning and will be continuously updated with additional data over time.



Today is Jackie Robinson Day!


Didn’t spot it at first outside the place where Jackie Robinson grew up, where he learned to run, threw oranges from neighbors’ trees, first fired a baseball under the tutelage of three older brothers, one of whom would star in the most famous Olympics of all.

Didn’t spot it till it was mentioned by Robinson’s sister-in-law Delano, who still lives in that same working-class area between the Rose Bowl and John Muir High.

Delano Robinson here with Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard

“Did you see the plaque?” she asked.

Well, no, even looking for it.

Maybe not for a plaque exactly, but something designating this as one of the most historic streets in America. What Hannibal, Mo., was to Mark Twain, Pasadena was to Jackie Robinson, a place that incubated his early values, a place that ultimately recalibrated history.

And here is this modest little plaque at 121 Pepper Street, so easily overlooked.

You hear plenty about how Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, and with Branch Rickey’s firm paw on his shoulder, ignored the taunts, swallowed the anger and took out his hurt on opposing teams.

Think your job has pressure?

“TRIUMPH OF WHOLE RACE SEEN IN JACKIE’S DEBUT IN MAJOR LEAGUE BALL,” a Boston newspaper roared on the day he signed with the Dodgers.

Jackie Robinson Shaking Branch Rickey's Hand
Jackie Robinson shaking hands with Branch Rickey on signing day.

Tenacious and frequently brilliant, what would a ballplayer like Jackie Robinson earn today? Manhattan?

Yet, you might wonder exactly where he romped as a kid, learned to run bases and hurdle potential tacklers — word is, baseball wasn’t even his best sport.

It’s found here, between Lincoln Avenue and Fair Oaks. The most anonymous famous block in America: Pepper Street in Pasadena.

In 1922, Robinson’s mother, Mallie, bought the Pepper Street place. The family called it “The Big House,” a four-bedroom place where she would raise five kids on her own.

Robinson here with his mother, Mrs. Mallie Robinson and Kenny Washington.

It was a white neighborhood then. She was able to buy the clapboard house only because the previous owner, also black, had purchased it with the help of a light-skinned relative.

So Mallie had her dream home, the porch hemmed with fieldstone and bougainvillea.

In the 1996 book “Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait,” his widow, Rachel, tells how Mallie followed her brothers to California, hoping for more opportunity than Cairo, Ga., offered, then spent a life cleaning and cooking in the area where the Tournament of Roses house is on Orange Grove.

To be sure, Pasadena can be a stately town, with mansions and long lawns and a spirit of volunteerism that probably surpasses most places.

Yet, for all of the mansions and famed Craftsman-style homes, this is potentially Pasadena’s most renowned street — the scratchy little stretch where its most inspiring figure came of age. For all of its attention to history, Pasadena has let this one slip away.

The old house is gone now, replaced by a couple of nondescript ranch-style homes. But the lore lingers.

On Pepper Street, Jackie Robinson learned to run and leap and throw.


It is from where, one day a week, the minority children could head down to swim in the Brookside pool, after which workers would drain it, as if it were somehow poisoned, before letting the other kids swim again.

On Pepper Street is where Robinson lived when he played four sports for Muir, then later for UCLA — like most black athletes, he lived at home then.

On Pepper Street is where Robinson lived when he met Rachel, put on a suit and took her to the Biltmore for their first date. It’s where he received his draft notice in 1942 and went off to serve at the same base as Joe Louis.

Pasadena hasn’t exactly failed on the Robinson front. There is a post office named for his underappreciated brother Mack, who returned from his silver-medal performance at the 1936 Olympics to an empty train station — no fanfare, no job, till he found one digging ditches. Still, he devoted his life to Pasadena, working at Muir, helping police with troubled youth, organizing clothing drives.

There are outsized busts of Mack and Jackie at City Hall. And there is nearby Robinson Park, a fine rec center on Fair Oaks.

No, Pasadena hasn’t failed to honor the Robinsons. Yet, there is this little street. And a plaque no one sees.

“It could be argued that [Jackie Robinson] was the start of the civil rights movement,” Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. said at a Muir symposium this spring.

“Martin Luther King used to go to Jackie Robinson for advice,” former Dodger Tommy Davis added.

Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“I would say that the city is proud of the two busts … a fine tribute to the Robinsons,” Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said the other day. “And there is Robinson Park that was recently refurbished. Beyond that, I haven’t heard of any suggestions to do more on Pepper Street. But maybe if you bring it up?”

It has been brought up before.

“We’ve talked to them about taking that plaque and standing it up and maybe putting a little light on it,” says Delano, Mack’s widow, now 79. “We’d love to see that.”

And what about renaming Pepper Street “Robinson Way”?

We’d love to see that too.



Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: