The Compton 125 Historical Society (CHS) interviewed Professor and former council member Amen Rahh on Saturday. The CHS was established to preserve the rich history of Compton, including its surrounding areas. He attended what was Bunche Junior High (now Bunche Middle School), and then went on to attend Centennial High School. Rahh was a star basketball player for the high school, and said that sports were a way to express yourself. He also said that when he went to school boys especially would dress up on occasion…and add their own flair to how they dressed and wore their clothes.
During the Watts riots Rahh (nicknamed “Sleppy”) was arrested along with others who were looting stores. But that was also the time that he became interested in the civil rights movement….because of black oppression. He said that the oppression of black people was wide-spread. There was segregation in Compton via the Eastside vs. the Westside. And it just wasn’t black, brown, or white segregation – but classism segregation. Basically, the upper class stayed on the eastside and wanted to keep blacks and poorer residents to the west.
Rahh said that he came from a large family of 12 brothers and sisters. Many of the street gangs would fight each other because they couldn’t fight the system (aka police), who would administer their own version of street justice by roughing up young men who were stopped on the streets.
Because of his basketball skills Rahh received a scholarship to college. He started out at a North Idaho Community College, later returned to Compton College before going to play ball at Cal State Long Beach for legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian.
While at College Rahh became involved in Black Studies, and the Black Student Union (BSU). Rahh said that while in college he worked with coalitions of student groups like La Raza and other’s to fight the injustices going on in schools and around the country that affected many minorities. Rahh eventually became a professor of Black Studies at Compton College and Cal State University Long Beach.
Special thanks to interviewer, author and historian Robert Johnson, videographers Karani Johnson, Odell Body, Compton 125 Historical Society representatives Rev. Charles Brown, Minister Pauline Brown, Al Sanders, Tony Hicks, and set venue First Charity MBC. Contact the CHS at email@example.com