As part of the California African American Museum’s (CAAM) commitment to the welfare of the community, it has expanded its programming to include events outside its primary focus on “art, history, and culture.” So it was that program manager Tyree Boyd-Pates, curator of the museum’s current exhibit “No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992 (running through August 27)”, assembled a contingent of relevant individuals on May 18 to ponder just how much things have (or haven’t) changed since the rebellion/riot/uprising of late April-early May, 1992.

Joining him on the dais entitled “Can we all get along? 25 years later at CAAM,” were the Reverend Cecil Murray (kind enough to attend in the wake of his wife Bernardine’s recent passing), minister emeritus of First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles, author Mark D. Craig, Denise Harlins (aunt of Latasha Harlins), Lora King (Rodney King’s daughter), and John Thomas, currently Chief of the Department of Public Safety at the University of Southern California.

These individuals were invited, in Boyd-Pates’ words, “…because of their participation and relevance,” in these past events, and their inclusion in the ongoing “No Justice, No Peace” exhibition.

Most recently the author of the self-published “Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed,” Craig was a recently discharged 23-year-old Navy veteran and freshman college student as the 1992 unrest engulfed the city. A native Angeleno, he’d enjoyed a middleclass upbringing before his radicalization, which prompted him to join the horde of protesters who stormed Parker Center. A photographer captured the image of him wearing a backward baseball cap, in a blue T-shirt emblazoned with a peace sign, which in turn landed on the cover of Newsweek magazine with the caption “America on Trial: Fire and Fury.”

Denise Harlins remembered her niece as a warm-hearted child, mature beyond her years, who aspired to become an attorney to help the marginalized. Lora King took issue with the media’s depiction of her father, a representation at odds with the man she knew.

King famously went bankrupt in the wake of his $3.8 million civil judgment against the city of Los Angeles, a set back she attributes to his overly generous nature. The record label he started, “Straight Alta-Pazz” (a play on the neighborhoods of Altadena and Pasadena where he grew up), went out of business, and he was notorious for handing out wads of cash for those in need in the community.

A Los Angeles native, Thomas spoke of the pain he endured confronting the rioters while he worked with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Afterwards, Boyd-Pates suggested the panel “…provided a gainful contribution and entry into the narrative about the 1992 uprising.”

As might have been expected, differences of opinion were apparent even in this relatively small group of six individuals. In keeping with the title of is book, Craig bemoaned the lack of significant change he feels has happened. Rev. Murray lauded the efforts of Chief Charlie Beck and the LAPD and its leadership to bond with the community during the quarter century interval that has transpired.

“The conversation continues,” Boyd-Pates said in closing.

“CAAM is glad to provide a platform for those who helped change history as we know it.”