University of Southern California- VAC, spring 2011
Community Immersion Paper: Jennings, Louisiana
I. Identification and General Description of Community
Choosing a community to write about for this community immersion paper was not hard, as I live in one of the most talked about cities in southern Louisiana. Jennings, Louisiana is a city located in the southern part of Louisiana about 80 miles from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is the city base for Jeff Davis Parish which combined has 6 cities in the parish (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Jennings is considered a rural area with a population of 10,909 people residing in the city. According to the census bureau the city of Jennings is populated with Caucasians at 7,736, African Americans 3, 076, Asian 32 and Hispanics 101 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Jennings has two sub communities the south side of town where most of the blacks are under the poverty line and some middle class residents. Downtown is where the whites and a few blacks live, these two sides a separated by a railroad track. The founding of Jennings was a manifestation of the dynamic spirit in Americans which led them to continually seek new frontiers and new areas of economic exploitation. The story of its growth parallels that of many other Louisiana towns, but in two respects it has a claim to distinctiveness: its middle western origin and its connection with Louisiana’s oldest oil field. Jennings McComb, for whom the town was named, was a contractor of the Southern Pacific Railroad. He built the Jennings depot on a divide peculiar to southwest Louisiana (Riser, 1948). It is known that he was president of the Louisiana Western Railroad Company and had been associated with Charles Morgan in certain railroad transactions. McComb accumulated a great fortune, not from the railroad transactions. McComb accumulated a great fortune, not from the railroad but from the acquisition of the patent for the arrow tie buckle used in the baling of cotton. In 1901 an Jennings businessmen brought in oil operators to develop the Jennings Oil Field. This marked the first production of oil in the state of Louisiana. Oil became an important element in the economy of Jennings, but rice, the basis of the town’s economy, was still cultivated. After 1906 oil production declined and the importance of the industry to Jennings decreased. Rice remained, as it always had been, the leading economic activity of the area (Riser, 1948). The one thing about this community is the buildings; they still resemble the old design from in the beginning. This community on one side of the tracks maybe crumbling, but Jennings is a growing city. Jennings can give the illusion of nothing is going on and deep down inside of the town is array of discrimination of race, social class, an economic status. II. Community Structure: Community Function
Jennings has few clubs for socializing and due to the divide in the population by race. Socialization between the white and blacks are limited if they do not work together. There are normally around event times in the community two different parades one downtown for the white the other Southside for the blacks.
The city is ran by the mayor elected, making all the decisions in the city. During events for the city the decision in regards to can it happen is left to the chief of police. The city has two law enforcement agency the city police which handles everything inside the city and the sheriff’s department which is for surrounding parish cities. Each area or parts of Jennings have police jurors that are elected for the area. Residents are to contact their police jurors with complaints; they are then brought before a town meeting that is held each month at city hall. The meetings are open to all residents in the parish; however they are not openly advertised....