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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Compton Makeover

Compton wants to shed its’ gangster rap image. A-T-V-N's Lauren Jones found out what has inspired this change. 


The music of the infamous 1990's rap group, N.W.A., is the image people think of when they hear Compton, but it was not always the city of original gangsters.

"Probably as much as 25 or 30 years ago, Compton was not just a community of color, but a community that had vital high schools, vital churches, vital black businesses," said Michele Tuner, Executive Director of USC's Black Alumni Association.

The new Mayor of Compton, 31-year-old Aja Brown, has come up with an action plan to restore the City of Compton from the ground up.  

"The crime rate or public safety is going to be one of the key focal points of what we do here in Compton to make sure that it's a safe and a viable community and then also the economic climate," said Mayor Brown. 

She has developed a 12-point action plan that includes health and wellness, economic revival and youth education. Since taking office she has implemented programs to cleanup Compton's streets. Lakewood High School students joined their local church for the cleanup. 

"You're doing something good for the community and it kind of like warms your heart that you actually did something good," said Ramiro Garica, Lakewood High School student. 

Garcia's classmate, Claudia Rodriguez reiterated those sentiments. 

"We should have more projects like these," said Rodriguez. "You know the ones that bring the community together, not just once." 

The Mayor is listening to her residents, she has even created a run club for middle and high school students. 

"It's been just more calm and peaceful as far as you know just hearing violence, gun vioelnce and all that kind of stuff...police sirens, helicopters," said Aaron Smith, longtime Compton resident. "It's not really as evident as it's been in the past."

Many local residents are optimistic about the changes they are seeing to their community, but with such a high crime rate and poor economy, experts are skeptical. Compton ranks 15th as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. 

"A lot of other communities with emerging economies across the Pacific Rim build their economies back through new business where we can set up viable vendor contrats, procurement issues and licensing," said Turner. 

Residents, both young and old say they are finally ready to be a part of taking back their City. 

"We are a proud city, we're proud of Compton," said Vincent Derrick, Compton resident. "We're proud to make it happen and proud to see it happen."

The Mayor and many residents hope Compton will get the facelift it needs. Whether or not that wins out over the City's long-standing cultural image is the question. 

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