EXPOSITION PAR (CBSLA)   — A leading civil rights group celebrated 50 years of changing lives Friday evening.

The celebration honoring the Brotherhood Crusade was held in Exposition Park, not far from the LA riots happened in 1965.

KCAL9’s Greg Mills talked to people at the celebration.

The Crusade started in 1968 by Charisse Bremond’s late father, Walter.

“Building South LA to make it better than what it was,” said Bremond.

Another Crusade starter, Danny Bakewell’s late father, Danny Senior.

“It was a novel concept in the sense that we were saying we have to be able to rely on each other in order to build from within our community and it worked,” Bakewell said.

Community leaders, volunteers, donors and mentors made the group work. It’s obvious that they felt it had to work. And work has always been a big issue.

“In ’68? Jobs, jobs, job, jobs. But that wasn’t happening,” said LA resident Leo Hill.

The frustration and desperation was part of the powder keg that set off the 1965 riots. Activists are hoping in these tense times, nothing will spark a violent reaction.

“You cant take a life of a young person who looks like me in our community and not think you don’t need to be accountable,” says Bremond.

“We have a new police chief. His challenge is going to be can we cut down, can we eliminate the assaulting and killing of black men with no provocation,” says Bakewell.

 Mills asked a 12-year-old to look at pictures of LA when it was going up in flames.

“Horrible. Sad. history. Definitely monumental,” said Kennedy Mitchell-Egbo.

He is aware of the history and says he worries about his safety and possible issues with police. But oberall he also believes things are better much better, than 50 years ago.

“Definitely because we have more laws that can help anybody, not just black people. And it’s a lot more just,” Mitchell-Egbo says.

Many see more hope and opportunity. That’s what the Brotherhood Crusade has always been working on.

Tonight, they celebrate.

“We’ve been in South LA for 50 years. We are not going anywhere,: says Bremond.

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