By Jon Wolff
On Tuesday, May 10, 2022 the Arts, Parks, Health, Education, and Neighborhoods Committee of the Los Angeles City Council approved Agenda Item #4 to rename Oakwood Recreation Center as Reese-Tabor Park and Recreation Center. This significant decision recognizes the legacies of Arthur Reese and Irving Tabor who were the principal founders of Venice.
Arthur Reese was the first African-American to live in Venice in the early 1900s. He worked closely with Abbot Kinney and, as the official town decorator of Venice, he created the image of Venice as we know it today. He served on the election Board of Venice and was a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Arthur Reese was a founding member of the First Baptist Church of Venice.
Irving Tabor was Arthur Reese’s cousin. He was also Abbot Kinney’s friend and chauffeur. He inherited Kinney’s house in Venice but was prohibited from living in the section of Venice where it was located. So he moved the house to the Oakwood neighborhood where it is now a City Cultural Monument. The families of Irving Tabor and Arthur Reese attended the First Baptist Church of Venice.
The Committee took public comment on the motion for the name change. Venice Activist Margaret Molloy spoke in support of the motion. She described Venice as the first intentional and only remaining intentional Black coastal community in the entire state of California. Mr. Reese and Mr. Tabor were the pioneers who led the community. Their role in the formation of Venice and everything that is recognized as Venice culture is completely fundamental and under-appreciated. She emphasized that this motion is a perfect move in the right direction.
The Committee’s approval marks another important step in establishing the Legacy of the Black Community of Venice. The historical designation of the First Baptist Church of Venice by the L.A. City Council in September of 2021 was a major win for the group Save Venice Original. Members of Save Venice Original had previously secured city approval in February of 2021 for a mural with the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” to be installed on Westminster Avenue in front of the First Baptist Church of Venice.
All of these recent achievements by Save Venice Original signal a powerful change in direction for Venice. Gentrification and displacement have been the negative forces in Venice for years. But the victories scored by hard-working real Venetians are evidence that Venice will win in the end.
SATURDAY, JUNE 18 TH @NOON
VENICE JUNETEENTH COMMUNITY DAY
OAKWOOD RECREATION CENTER
767 CALIFORNIA AVE
VENICE, CA 90291
Event Sponsors: Council District 11 Mike Bonin,
City of David Community Church (Demiko Fitzgerald, Pastor),
Shipp of Zion of Venice (Robert Shipp, Pastor),
New Bethel Baptist Church (Marvis Davis, Pastor), God's
House of Liberty (Curtis Williams, Pastor),
Mt.Hebron Baptist Church (Vaughn Andrews, Pastor)
VENICE 2000/Helper Foundation (Stan Muhammad CEO),
Venice Community Housing (Becky Dennison,Executive Dir),
Venice Family Clinic,
SMVRO (Santa Monica Venice Reunion Organization)
Invited Guest Speakers: CD11 Mike Bonin
Mayoral Candidate Karen Bass
Minister Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad
Venice Oakwood Community,
Isabella Dennis from the Office of Council Member Mike Bonin