An Interview with Spud Anderson

A recent conversation with VNC candidate Raphael "Spud" Anderson about the First Baptist Church of Venice and its importance to Venice.

Spud Anderson Venice, CA


Jon Wolff:  Your family was active in the church.

Spud Anderson:  Yes.  And my grandmother’s funeral was held there.

JW:  So you go way back with First Baptist Church.

SA:  Absolutely.  My family goes way back.

JW:  And your family was part of the group that contributed to the building of it.

SA:  Yes. My mother loved that church.  And that church was very important to the African-American Community.  I don’t understand why they [the present owners, the Penskes] want to get rid of the church.  The church was sold very underhandedly.  It’s upsetting that they would do this.  It’s like they’re trying to erase the History of African-Americans in Venice.  It looks like that.  It looks like a coordinated effort.

JW:  I think that’s exactly what it is.  I don’t think it’s an accident at all.

SA:  The church was always a central point for the Community during the sad times in the Community.  The People would gather there. They would get inspiration there.  I’ve been to many funerals there.  I’ve been to many weddings there.  It was a focal point of the Community.  And I grew up with my mom there.

JW:  Who was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Venice then?

SA:  Pastor Holmes [E.L. Holmes].  He lived on Brooks and 7th.  It’s upsetting to see the history of the church…  W.E.B. Du Bois spoke at the church.  It would seem that, just from the historic perspective, they would say, “Hey, this church is central.”  But they want to turn it into a single-family dwelling?  Really?

JW:  That intersection is called Pastor E.L. Holmes Square.  But all you get is a commemorative plaque.

SA:  The church needs to stay.  We can revitalize the Community where the people are lost.  The church is central.  And I don’t just say that about African-Americans.  I say that about all of Venice.  The Jewish heritage, the Japanese heritage… the heritage of diversity.  For any group, it’s not right to just erase that.  That’s what America is striving to be.  And it’s what Venice always was.

JW:  That’s absolutely right.  Do you want to say anything about your candidacy for VNC [Venice Neighborhood Council]?

SA:  I would say that my ears are as open as my mouth.  I will put my ideas on the conveyor belt of ideas and others can add to the ideas.  It’s ours and we can make it better.

JW:  This would be different from the current VNC’s ideas about blocking out anybody who doesn’t make them money.

SA:  Just like the scandal with the universities, you see what’s wrong.  Thomas Jefferson wrote about how capitalism was going to be the danger to the new republic.  And it is.  We are being sold out.  Righteousness is not an emotion; it is a duty that we have.  I to you and you to me.  We have to get back to that.  If we are going to grow and survive, we must evolve into that.  Just pure greed is destroying us.  We have working families that can’t pay rent.  We’ve got to take it back.

JW:  Are these some of the values that you got from being part of the First Baptist Church of Venice?

SA:  These are the values that I got from First Baptist Church and my home.  These are the values that my People brought from the South when they came here.  These are the values, and we’re selling them out.  It’s not prosperity; it’s greed.

JW:  Thank you.