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"Sweet Alice Square" Watts intersection is dedicated to lifetime community advocate

Intersection in Watts is dedicated for community leader "Sweet" Alice Harris
Intersection in Watts is dedicated for community leader "Sweet" Alice Harris 00:52

A Watts community and youth advocate who's been named a "Point of Light," "Woman of the Year," and earned the nickname "Sweet," now has an intersection named after her.

Family, friends, and city leaders gathered with 90-year-old "Sweet" Alice Harris as an intersection near her Lou Dillon Avenue social services organization was dedicated as "Sweet Alice Square" on Monday.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Tim McOsker led the ceremony, calling Harris a beacon of hope for the community.

"The life of Sweet Alice touches so many people … and this memory, this sign, and this naming will remember your work, your decades and decades and decades of work that is going to continue for decades and decades and decades more, forever," McOsker said.

"Sweet Alice Square" is at the intersection of Lou Dillon Avenue and Santa Ana Boulevard North, near the social services organization she founded in 1967, Parents of Watts.

Harris is the executive director of the organization, which she founded in an attempt to alleviate tensions in the neighborhood after the 1965 riots. Parents of Watts focuses on creating a safe and nurturing environment for youth, advocating for social change and providing support for families struggling with poverty and crime.

At Monday's ceremony, Harris showed no signs of wanting to slow down. She said she's committed herself to working with Mayor Karen Bass on the homeless crisis and promoted her next community outreach day, where clothes, shoes, and food will be given away.  Regular annual community giveaways include Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas bicycles for kids. 

"I'm grateful for you all, and I'm grateful for this community. I love it, I love it, and I will always, always do my best here," Harris said.

She explained that her childhood of poverty, and not having enough, drove her to make sure that her family and her community would not have to go without. When asked what her legacy would be, she said, " I want them to remember I am working for the Lord, doing what I can do for the least."

"Sweet" Alice Harris is honored with a Watts intersection naming ceremony on June 17, 2024. KCAL News

Services at Parents of Watts include emergency food and shelter for homeless people, drug counseling, health seminars and parenting classes, as well as trade school, college, and job market preparations for teens.

Harris was born in Gadsden, Alabama, on Dec. 29, 1933, and she was raised there. She moved to Detroit where she operated her own beauty shop before moving to Los Angeles in the late 1950s, seeking better opportunities for herself and her family.

She faced numerous challenges and hardships as an African American woman in Watts amid poverty, gang violence and social neglect.

The naming of the intersection is the latest of a long series of honors for Harris, which also include receiving an honorary doctorate from USC, being selected by President George W. Bush as a "point of light" for the impact she has made on Watts through her volunteer work, being selected by Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante as "Woman of the Year," in 2002, receiving the Minerva Award created by California first lady Maria Shriver to honor remarkable women, having the play park on Compton Avenue named for her and having the Oral Arts Room at King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science dedicate the Oral Arts Room to her.

During Monday's ceremony, Harris also thanked her husband of 63 years. "He's put up with me for 63 years, and that ain't easy," Harris said.

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