Sunday April 28, 2019 saw a crowd on the sidewalk in front of the Mayme Clayton Museum and Library, carrying signs and cultivating horn-blasting approval from the traffic on Overland Ave. The months long crisis of the MCLM’s continued residence in Culver City has created a determined base of people willing to stand against County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ efforts of evict the collection.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, noted author and activist, spoke to the rally to Save the Mayme Clayton, offering that there were different threads to the story. “When Supervisor Yvonne Burke gave this building to the Mayme Clayton Foundation, it was to be in perpetuity. We thought it would stay that way. She knew that having a place where people of the community could access the collection was important.”
Before 83 -year-old Mayme Clayton died in 2006 she was asked what motivated her to begin the collection that became the library, she said “ I wanted to be sure that children would know that black people have done great things, and at the time I didn’t see anyone else saving the history.”
The official statements from Ridley-Thomas’ office holds that the MCLM has been under a temporary month to month lease by the County of Los Angeles, and that they are being evicted due to the need for a constituency center. The County has begun legal eviction proceedings.
Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells also addressed the crowd, recalling that “This is the most important collection of its kind west of the Mississippi, and we are so lucky to have it here in Culver City for more than a decade. In fact we [the city of Culver City] worked with a noted architect, pro bono, to come up with a plan for a museum, a constituency center and housing for artists in residence – and the county said no, thank you.”
Hutchinson urged the crowd to sign the petition, if they had not already done so, and to continue to spread the word. “Who owns this building? Does the County own this building? You own this building, and you should get a say in how it gets used.”