Oral Histories

Interview of D'Artagnan Scorza

Founder and executive director of the Social Justice Learning Institute in Inglewood, California.
Narratives of Justice:Criminal Justice Activism in Los Angeles
Community History
Social Movements
Community Activism
Biographical Note:
Founder and executive director of the Social Justice Learning Institute in Inglewood, California.
Lea, Charles
Scorza, D'Artagnan
Persons Present:
Scorza and Lea.
Place Conducted:
D’Artagnan Scorza’s office at the Social Justice Learning Institute in Inglewood, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Charles Lea, graduate student interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D. candidate in Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare. Lea had had direct practical experience with racial/ethnic minority youth and young adults in community, educational, and correctional settings over eight years of research focused on prisoner reentry, school reform, and youth and workforce development interventions. His dissertation identifies the elements of an alternative school that facilitate academic achievement among formerly incarcerated young adult black men
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Scorza was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verity the accuracy of the content but made no changes.
4.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The Narratives of Justice oral history series documents issues related to the criminal justice system in California through interviews with a variety of people who seek to reform that system. It includes interviews with individuals who provide services to at-risk youth; individuals engaged in community-based reentry services for people leaving prisons and jails; and activists in other areas related to criminal justice reform.
Born in Watts, California – Walks to elementary school – Participates in oratorical contest – Mother gets married – Mother gets divorced – Meets biological father and siblings – Visits biological father in prison – Enters third grade – Enters middle school – Moves to Inglewood, California – Unstable financial circumstances – Witnesses physical and verbal abuse – Learns to tie a tie – Enters high school – Friend is shot and killed – Absent from school – Takes care of ill sister and household responsibilities – Unsafe in community – Family gang wars – Police brutality – Buys first car – Conflicts with mother.
Lives with maternal grandmother -- Moves to Inglewood, California – Unstable financial circumstances – Obtains first job – Participates in youth violence prevention program – Visits Mexico – Experiences race riots and gang violence at school – Family converts to Baptist Church – Moves in with cousin in Marina Del Rey, California – Lives with Aunt Martha – Begins to study the bible – Enrolls in Reseda High School – Re-enrolls in Morningside High School – Accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Takes courses in political science – Receives 3.0 GPA – Moves home from the dorms – Gets sick – Takes fewer courses – Studies abroad in South Africa – Joins the military – Re-enrolls in UCLA – Takes critical pedagogy course – Launches the Black Male Youth Academy (BMYA) – Feels discouraged following first year of BMYA – Evaluates and adjust BMYA program.
Gains a “language” to understand his experience – Falls in love with critical theory – Conducts research on black males and education – Majors in education – Selected as a McNair Scholar – Presents at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) – Develops BMYA proposal – Implements BMYA at Morningside High School – Learns how to facilitate discussion with young black men – Provides one-on-one intervention with black males – Teaches from a heritage perspective – Confronts teachers at Morningside High School – Graduates from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree – Appointed as student regent – BMYA gains visibility due to improved outcomes – Uses hip hop to teach BMYA curriculum – Brainstorms on how to sustain BMYA – Adds a college preparation component to BMYA – Decides to build the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) – Fundraises and applies for grants – Has first son – Graduates from ULCA with Ph.D. – SJLI’s financial portfolio exceeds national average – SJLI serves system-involved youth – SJLI expands programming beyond education – SJLI improves individual and community-level outcomes – SJLI supports personal and professional maturity.