Jorja Leap sheds light on Watts’ black fathers in ‘Project Fatherhood’
By Tre’vell Anderson, Los Angeles Times
Jorja Leap is no ordinary professor; she’s got what many would call “street cred.”
Sitting in her office at UCLA, where she teaches at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, she points to two photos hanging above her desk. The first is of her with Father Greg Boyle, founder of Los Angeles’ Homeboy Industries, an organization that works to steer people from gang life. She’s done extensive work with Father Boyle and the men and women he helps mentor.
The second, in black and white, is of black and Latino men and their children. These are members of Project Fatherhood, former gang members and ex-cons with whom Leap has worked for the past five years at the Jordan Downs apartments in Watts. They are the subject of her new book, “Project Fatherhood: A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America’s Toughest Communities” (Beacon Press: 256 pp., $24.95). All proceeds benefit Project Fatherhood Jordan Downs.
“I knew the minute they started talking, I had to bear witness, and it became important to me that their stories were out there,” said Leap. “We don’t have books about poor black fathers. We have books about men of color who have raised themselves up, but we also need to know of this experience.”
Project Fatherhood was started by the late Dr. Hershel Swinger, a clinical psychologist and former senior vice president of Los Angeles’ Children’s Institute. The program provides therapy, support and training for low-income urban fathers. Read More Here