There’s more to the City of Compton than its worldwide reputation as the “home of gangsta rap.” Its struggles with violence, gangs and poverty have painted the once great city as the icon of “inner city urban chaos.” Welcome to the Compton of today and the strides that are being made to return Compton to the beautiful, thriving suburban city it once was.
The strides of improvement are being seen in the drastic drops in unemployment and violent crime. The community has recognized that the city is noticeably cleaner and safer than it has been in the past few decades. With that change has been an economic groundswell. In 2007, the Gateway Towne Center was developed and Compton welcomed new retailers including Target, Best Buy, Staples, Home Depot, 24 Hour Fitness, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and many more.
In 2012 the City opened up the new MLK Transit Center creating a gateway to the City of Compton for individuals traveling on the Metro Blue Line. More than the functionality it is also a tangible symbol of the New Compton projecting a new image and identity for the city.
A New Vision
In recent years the community of Compton has spoken with conviction to take back their community. The most recent evidence of this movement was seen in the 2013 election of the youngest mayor in the city’s history, Aja Brown, a local woman with experience in civic redevelopment and an urban planning degree from nearby USC. When she was asked why she chose “Vision for Compton” as her platform. She simply responded, “Proverbs 29:18 says ‘without a vision, the people perish.’”
Once in office, that vision also known as Mayor Brown’s "12-Point Plan" was posted on the web for all to see. “Vision for Compton” focuses on family, quality of life, infrastructure improvements and sustainable economic development. The vision also brings a new transparency to the City, which is often lacking in local government.
In an effort to eradicate gang violence, Mayor Aja Brown launched the Community Policing Task Force in 2014. The Task Force partners the local community with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept., ex-gang members, the district attorney, the F.B.I. and the juvenile courts. Together, they’ve produced a calculated approach to the crime and issues that have plagued the city for years. The efforts have garnered both local and federal support.
Part of that support produced “Compton Empowered”, an organization comprised of former gang members (Bloods & Crips) who have come together to mentor at risk youth and are committed to youth development through vocational, entrepreneurial and business training. Compton Empowered also focuses on a re-investment to the community through art, multicultural programming and a re-thinking of the public safety through peace.