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Flap Casts Doubt on African Festival

October 21, 1990

We are distraught, angered and unable to begin planning for the 1991 African Marketplace and Cultural Faire as a result of the controversy created by Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky's criticism of the sale of two anti-Semitic books at this year's event (Times, Oct. 14).

The uproar threatens an event that has been heralded as a love-in not only by Southern California residents and tourists, but by would-be imitators all over this country. The African Marketplace is the most successful of all city-sponsored festivals. This is not because of city funds, but because the community makes it happen. Over 150,000 multiethnic Southern Californians attend this event and there has never been a gang incident, shooting or other major crime or disturbance.

The two books in question were among more than 500 books in the booth of Eso Won Bookstore. With over 150 vendors participating at the festival, how could the staff know of this inciteful literature? To our knowledge, none of the staff had ever heard of the books until Yaroslavsky's allegations surfaced in The Times.

Correspondence sent to all prospective vendors informed them that no political, controversial or inflammatory objects, artifacts, literature or artwork would be permitted. We were way ahead of the game.

The African Marketplace can hardly be considered an anti-Semitic venue. Not when vendors of Jewish ancestry are participants and selling beautiful African clothes and authentic artifacts from that great continent. Not when food vendors specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine participated. The dismantling of the African Marketplace, for whatever reasons, will not come about without the one-voice outrage of the community. To let such a positive event go down in defeat without a fight is unthinkable.


Los Angeles

Editor's note: Taylor was public relations coordinator for the 1990 African Marketplace.

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