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UCLA Urban Planning and UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies Perloff Lecture Series on Race in Transportation

Compton Cowboys and California Love

Multimedia artist Walter Thompson-Hernández shares from his book, “The Compton Cowboys,” and latest NPR Podcast California Love.

In Compton, California, 10 Black riders on horseback cut an unusual profile, their cowboy hats tilted against the hot Los Angeles sun. They are the Compton Cowboys, their small ranch one of the very last in a formerly semirural area of the city that has been home to African American horse riders for decades. “The Compton Cowboys” is a story about trauma and transformation, race and identity, compassion, and ultimately, belonging. Walter Thompson-Hernández paints a unique and unexpected portrait of this city, pushing back against stereotypes to reveal an urban community in all its complexity, tragedy, and triumph.

California Love is a new audio memoir about Walter’s coming of age in Los Angeles.


WALTER THOMPSON-HERNÁNDEZ is an award-winning journalist, writer, and host. He is a former New York Times writer and host who covered global subcultures for the paper between 2017-2020. He was named one of Quartz magazine’s “Top 50 creative people in the world,” in 2018. In 2019 he was awarded the prestigious Whiting Award for his book, The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland. He was awarded the “Yo Soy” award by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Instagram for his coverage of communities of color throughout the United States in 2019. He was named the 2020 “podcast host of the year” by ADWEEK for his NPR audio memoir, California Love. California Love was also named one of the best shows of 2020 by Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and The Atlantic.


EVELYN BLUMENBERG is the Director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and a Professor of Urban Planning within the Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research examines the effects of urban structure — the spatial location of residents, employment, and services — on economic outcomes for low-wage workers, and on the role of planning and policy in shaping the spatial structure of cities. Recent projects include analyses of trends in transit ridership, gender and travel behavior, low-wage workers and the changing commute, and the relationship between automobile ownership and employment outcomes among the poor.


The full recording can be found below.


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