MamaLA: Little Big Shots

Four local lessons to help you raise a civic-minded global citizen

Yasmine, Maverick, and Malala just returned from a whirlwind trip to Washington D.C. Yasmine was there with her documentary, We Came Home, as part of AFI DOCS film festival. While there, Yasmine was incredibly inspired by the spirit of our nation’s capitol.

Every stroll offered an opportunity for conversation with Maverick. At three years old, he wasn’t able to understand everything, but he did quip “I thought we were gonna see Obama, mama” after touring the National Mall. As they approached the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, Yasmine explained to Maverick that Mr. King helped people understand that we are all the same, and that we all deserve the same rights to play or go to school. Yasmine and her children stood under the larger than life memorial of MLK, Jr. in time for a boy’s choir from Philadelphia to lead passersby in a rendition of “We Shall Overcome” together. It was an experience that even filled 7-month-old Malala with joy.

The entire experience made Yasmine appreciate the incredible diversity of our own great city and reinforced our desire to mindfully raise our children to be civic-minded global citizens. With mayor-elect Eric Garcetti’s inauguration happening this Sunday evening, we’ve rounded up just some of the local places you can experience teachable moments right here in L.A.

For a lesson in diversity and the arts:

Visit Watts Towers Arts Center and the Watts Towers Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center, which provides diverse cultural enrichment programming through tours of the towers, lectures, changing exhibitions, and studio workshops. The annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival (dedicated to percussion and the traditional role of drumming in human societies) and the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival (the oldest such festival in Los Angeles, it pays tribute to the American music forms of jazz, gospel, and blues and takes it to the Avant Garde and Latin jazz scene) take place during the last weekend of September, enjoy. Both events embrace the concept of multiculturalism and draw crowds from all parts of the city and around the world.

For a lesson in Mexican and Mexican American history and identity in Los Angeles:

Visit the “LA Starts Here!” exhibit at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Los Angeles’ beautiful center with a mission to celebrate and cultivate an appreciation for the enduring and evolving influence of Mexican and Mexican-American culture and a specific focus on the unique Mexican-American experience in Los Angeles and Southern California.

For a lesson in L.A. kids helping L.A. kids:

At A Place Called Home, caring staff, supporters and volunteers come together to provide South Central children aged 8 to 21 with love, safety, enrichment, training, and opportunities through educational programs, counseling, and mentorship. After-school, weekend, and all-day summer programs and services include tutoring and homework support, as well as a full spectrum of instruction in the arts, athletics, dance and music.

For a lesson in civic celebration and participation:

Join your fellow Angelenos this Sunday at 6 p.m. for a free block-party style inauguration for mayor-elect Eric Garcetti in Grand Park, just north of City Hall. 


With seven children ranging in age from seven months to sixteen years between them, sisters and bloggers Yasmine Delawari Johnson and Soraya Delawari Dancsecs are experts at parenting in L.A. They take a break from PTA board meetings, cooking, and producing films to blog at CityThink each Thursday.