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Black, Latino Tension to Be Summit Topic : Diversity: Organizers hope meeting at Compton Community College will foster understanding between ethnic groups. High schools have been particularly troubled.


Brawling in the schools. Gangs fighting over turf in Compton. Unemployed workers complaining that jobs are going to members of another race.

The signs of racial tension between blacks and Latinos are everywhere these days, Royce Esters says. And he is nervous.

"If we don't do something now, it's going to be a very hot summer," said Esters, president of the Compton branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

In response to this tension, the NAACP has joined with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) to set up a unity summit expected to draw up to 500 people Saturday at Compton Community College.

Esters and Samano said they had heard repeated complaints from those they represent about advantages the other group is perceived to enjoy.

"We've been getting a number of phone calls from Latinos, mostly about the education system and racial tensions," said Marta Samano, leadership development director for MALDEF. "They feel shut out."

Esters gets calls from people who say they were turned down for a job because they can't speak Spanish. As the Latino population continues to grow, blacks are beginning to feel crowded out of a city they consider an enclave of African American pride, Esters said. Blacks constituted just under 53% of Compton's population, according to the 1990 census. The Latino population was about 44%.

In the summit's workshops and speeches, participants will discuss conflict in the schools, youth violence, affirmative action and employment discrimination, and conflict resolution. The conference is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Spanish, Samoan and Korean translators will be provided.

Child care will be offered. Children will be given lessons on the history and culture of various races.

Speakers will include U.S. Rep. Walter R. Tucker III (D-Compton), Mayor Omar Bradley and Ignacio Pena, president of the Compton College Board of Trustees. Organizers also expect representatives from the district attorney's office, and state and county government to attend.

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