In 1966, I got my first horse, and boarded her at Coles Stables, which was just on the other side of the LA River from Compton. That river served as a type of "buffer" from what was going on so close by. I remember one time in the late spring of 1969, I was riding in the riverbed with my sister and her girlfriend, when a group of young boys on bicycles appeared and demanded that we let them ride our horses. When we said "No", they became aggressive and one of them actually threw his bike at us. Fortunately, they were on the "Compton" side of the water and we were on the "Long Beach" side, which deterred them from being able to physically get to us. We got out of there as fast as our horses could go. That was the last time I rode on the bottom of the LA River unless it was West of Alondra Boulevard.
My best friend in junior high and high school lived in Compton. To escape the turmoil, she got an inter-city transfer in 1968 so she could go to North Long Beach schools. The funny thing is, Long Beach had its own issues with racial strife, and in 1971 decided to begin "bussing" students from Poly High School (you may have heard of Poly High, as this is where Snoop Dogg went to school). Not long after, I remember hearing of knife fights and other atrocities occurring on school grounds. My idyllic southern California lifestyle radically changed in just a few years.
By the time I was ready to graduate high school in 1972, Compton was the last place I would intentionally visit. It was just too risky to be there. Personally, I find this to be really sad. As a young person, I didn't understand why people would be treated differently because of the color of their skin. I went to school with kids from Indonesia, Mexico, Japan, and many other diverse and ethnic lands. It never crossed my mind to treat them any differently. We were classmates and friends, why would I be mean to them just because they had a different color skin?
I have no idea what Compton is like today, but I certainly can do without the reminder by watching a movie. Hopefully, the youth of today will not try to replicate what they see. As Rodney King once said "Why Can't We All Just Get Along?" If I knew the answer to that, I would be rich.