By Frederick Sparks
CAAM is located in Exposition Park, part of a complex of museums (including the science museum that now houses the Space Shuttle Endeavor) near the University of Southern California, and began formal operations in 1981 with the mission to “research, collect, preserve and interpret for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the western United States.” The collections toured by the group included one titled “Go Tell it On the Mountain” , which focused on the role of Christianity in black American life, including a commentary on religious hypocrisy that has apparently solicited negative reactions from some of the museum’s religious patrons. Also of note was an exhibit devoted to the history and art collection of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, the largest black owned insurance company in the western United States, which was established in the mid 1920s to offer life insurance policies to African Americans otherwise unable to obtain policies.
The group followed the museum visit with lunch at Post and Beam, a welcome addition to an area of South Los Angeles that suffers the distinction of being a “cuisine desert” of mostly fast food restaurants despite being adjacent to one of the largest concentrations of affluent African Americans in the state. A collaboration between former Spago chef and Inglewood native Govind Armstrong and Los Angeles restauranteur Brad Johnson, Post and Beam also features a patio area with a herb and vegetable garden that provides ingredients for the restaurant’s selections.