Meet Latora Green, Founder of the Valley of Change
She’s a changemaker.
- Photographed byMonica Orozco
If you travel traverse the Valley, Latora Green is hard to miss. Since May 31 she has spearheaded the Black Lives Matter protest at the intersection of Ventura and Sepulveda Boulevards. From noon to 8 p.m. each day, Latora and her fellow demonstrators work to boost awareness and create change. Having lost her job in human resources for a nonprofit due to COVID layoffs, Latora feels she has found her calling in life. Here she shares with VB editor Linda Grasso how her grassroots protest has recently picked up steam, morphing into the new nonprofit Valley of Change.
When you first set up in front of the Sherman Oaks Galleria, what was your plan?
Originally I started going to the area with my husband in May, around when the National Guard showed up. I didn’t have posters or signs. I just put my fists up and started chanting, “Black lives matter. We want justice.” Then people started joining in and we formed a group. But I’m the only one who has not missed a day.
What keeps you going?
There are times when I’m out there by myself. But I feel like whether we have one or 100 people, we are getting the same message across to the community. People share their support every day, blowing kisses from cars, raising fists or shouting out “I love you” and “thank you!” Sometimes people make a contribution. It gives me inspiration.
We’ve had people flip us the bird and some have even flashed their guns at us. That doesn’t scare me. I’m out here fighting for lives.
I drove by one day this past summer— it was something like 110 degrees—and you were out there.
Yes, but my ancestors went through so much worse. I can’t think of a reason why I can’t be strong and keep pushing. I think it’s important for people to drive by and think: Wow, she is still out there! I want onlookers to think: Why is she doing this?
I understand you are also doing outreach for the homeless.
Yes, we feed the homeless and pass out COVID test kits. If someone walks by and expresses a need—whether it is for Gatorade or housing—we’re going to try and help.
I’ve always been interested in feeding the homeless and doing outreach, but never wanted the hassle of doing the paperwork to form a nonprofit. But now I’ve officially formed the 501(c)(3) Valley of Change. Our donors can now file for tax credits.
“There are times when I’m out there by myself. But I feel like whether we have one or 100 people, we are getting the same message across to the community.”
How has the mall responded to you all being out there?
The Galleria isn’t really supportive, but that’s typical of shopping center management. I don’t take it personally. The street corner is public property and we have a right to be there. Some of the stores and restaurants have shown support, sharing restrooms and giving us ice.
How long will you continue on that same street corner?
As long as we need to. I want policy change regarding police brutality and the unjust way they treat the homeless—just arresting them, when so many have mental health issues. Congressman Brad Sherman has come out to our protest and I now have his information. I want national policy change, and for that you need Congress.
What really motivates you?
When white kids join us. We’ve had a lot of parents bring their children. Kids don’t have to be Black to put their fists up. I say to them: I’m fighting for you too. You don’t have to be Black. I’m trying to fix our world for you all too. It takes everybody, not just Black people. It’s about unity.