LA Fridays with Bob and Tom: California African American Museum

LA Fridays with Bob and Tom

 Week 32. California African American Museum

This week we visit the California African American Museum located in Exposition Park, near downtown LA.  The exhibits are, as usual, excellent.

Cross Colours:  Black Fashion in the 20th Century, my favorite exhibition, marks the brand's 30th Anniversary by showcasing vintage textiles, media footage, and rare ephemera that illuminates how Cross Colours, the hip hop brand from the 90’s - known for its boldly hued geometric looks and social justice massaging -  has permeated popular culture and how fashion can be used to tell history. Bob and I learned from this exhibit another perspective and dimension of the hip hop generation.

We also checked out a second, though disturbing, exhibition, Making Mammy: A Caricature of Black Womanhood, 1840-1940.  This exhibit displayed images of a black mammy in entertainment, literature, and in film, part of a series of stereotypes popularized in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries that was meant to uphold racist ideas of black people’s natural inferiority.  This stereotype was used “as justification” for their oppression, initially as enslaved people and then as marginalized people during the era of Jim Crown racist apartheid.

Contrasting the two exhibitions shows us we have progressed over time in portraying black images, but still have a long way to go to achieve racial justice in our country.


Robert (Bob) is a PhD physicist whose career has spanned academia, government and private industry. As a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Tennessee, a Branch Chief at the United States Department of Energy and Vice President of an American International Group Company, his scientific endeavors include radiation physics, environmental research, environmental insurance and nanotechnology.

Originally from the East Coast, Bob was seduced by his sons and their families (and the California weather) to leave Washington, DC after retiring in 2010. While recovering from culture shock, Bob found many outlets to reconcile his eclectic interests. As a member of Senior Scholars for over six years he continues to take courses in a myriad of subjects ranging from film to art history to brain science and finds great intellectual and social rewards in Senior Scholars and the Plato Society.

As a latent artist, he sketches scenes about town once a week with an artist friend from his college days and is attempting to learn to play the electric guitar.

On moving to Los Angeles, he found Tom Jacobson, another recent transplant. They became great friends and decided to explore their new town together leading to over 113 sites in our city. Dubbed “LA Fridays with Bob and Tom” they are happy to share their experiences with others.

Bob lives in Brentwood with Phyllis, his wife of 56 years, an education policy executive. They have two sons and four grandchildren, one of whom plays a guitar a lot better than Bob.



Thomas (Tom) is an attorney who practiced trial and constitutional law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1938 in Bamberg Germany, he was one of the youngest passengers on the ill-fated voyage of the Damned, the SS St. Louis, turned away from Cuba in 1939.

Tom represented local civil rights activists and Dick Gregory and twice argued cases successfully in the United States Supreme Court. In 1970 he was the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.

Retiring in 2008, he and wife, Peggy, moved to California to join their two sons and four grandchildren, and enjoy the warm weather.

Tom has kept busy as a member of Senior Scholars and Plato for the last six years keeping his brain stimulated and active. Yoga and swimming have kept his body in shape.




Week 30:  Jeffery Deitch Gallery, Judy Chicago