Rich Legacy of Hispanic Heritage Ever Present in Inglewood

Thursday, October 01, 2015 Written by 
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Inglewood is recognized as a diverse community, comprised mainly of Latinos and African Americans.  It has been that way for quite some time. Hispanics make up the largest ethnic group in Inglewood, and one of the largest population shifts occurred between 1980 and 1990.


The 1990 census showed that Hispanics in Inglewood had increased by 134 percent since 1980, the largest jump in the South Bay. Economic factors apparently played a role in where new arrivals settled, said David Heer, a USC Professor of Sociology and associate director of the university's Population Research Laboratory.


"Housing is generally less expensive here than elsewhere . . . and I would say that they receive a warmer welcome here," said Norm Cravens, former Assistant City Manager in Inglewood.  The city’s Anglo population dropped from nearly 21 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent by 1990.  (Janet-Rae Dupree, "Census Shows Influx of Asians on Peninsula," Los Angeles Times,February 28, 1991, page 3). 


The 2010 United States Census reported that Inglewood had a population of 109,673. The population density was more than 12,000 people per square mile. The racial makeup of Inglewood was 48,165 (43.9%) African American, 25,563 (23.3%) White, 751 (0.7%) Native American, 1,484 (1.5%) Asian, 350 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 28,860 (26.3%) from other races, and 4,502 (4.1%) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos (of any race) made up 50.6% of the population.


Today, according to, the Hispanic population in Inglewood is 54.2%. African-Americans make up 40.0%.


The late Inglewood historian Gladys Waddington wrote that early Hispanic settlers, who were part of the original settlers of Los Angeles, helped put the city on the map.  Contributions by Latinos date back to 1822 when Ygnacio Avila received a Mexican land grant for Rancho Sausal Redondo in Alta, California, where he grazed cattle. This occurred after Mexico won independence from Spain in the Mexican War of Independence. The rancho's lands encompass the present day cities of Redondo BeachInglewoodHawthorneEl SegundoLawndaleManhattan Beach, and Hermosa Beach.


The Centinela Adobe, which is the Centinela Valley's oldest residence, was built by Ygnacio Machado in 1834. Since then, farmers, ranchers, a Scotsman, and Inglewood's founding father, Daniel Freeman, have lived in the structure. It is the oldest building in the area and has been called the "Birthplace of Inglewood".


Today, there are two Hispanic members of the Inglewood City Council—Councilman Eloy Morales Jr. of the Third District and Councilman Alex Padilla of the Second District.


Councilman Eloy Morales, Jr. was first elected to the Inglewood City Council in 2003. Since then, he has ran unopposed and was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2015 respectively.  Councilman Morales is the longest sitting member of the Inglewood City Council. Growing up in Inglewood's Third District, Morales was inspired by his father, Eloy Morales, Sr., who was active in civic affairs and often the only Latino voice in the room.  The younger Morales decided early on that he wanted a career in public service.  He got a B.A. from California State University at Northridge, and a law degree from California Western School of Law. 


After graduating law school, Councilman Morales worked for the California State Assembly and Senate, serving three distinguished legislators. All of Councilman Morales' experience, education, and love for his community make him able to deal with the complex issues of a growing and diverse community.


Councilman Alex Padilla was elected to represent Inglewood’s Second District in a runoff election on June 11, 2013.  It was a major upset, as the former Councilmember Judy Dunlap had served for more than 20 years.  Touting his campaign slogan, “Bringing the Community Together,” Padilla has kept his promise, regularly creating opportunities for community networking.  His annual District 2 Picnic is widely anticipated and attended.  He was one of the biggest supporters in the City of the Hispanic Heritage Festival, which had not been held for a few years due to budget cuts.  His efforts are credited with attracting the largest Festival turnout thus far. 


Padilla’s office regularly organizes town hall meetings, holiday giveaways and other family fun events to encourage residents to come out and meet their neighbors.   Padilla, who has been a resident of District 2 for at least 2 decades, has a background in law enforcement.


He also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Redlands.  He is a graduate of the Police Officers Standard of Training Executive Development Course, the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute Program (taught by professors from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government), and is a graduate of POST Command College Class 46, a master’s level program focused on the future of law enforcement.









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