Arts Commissioner honors Black History Month through her past and present
Clifford A Scott Jr., an employee with General Dynamics, was shooting pool at the Navy base when the news of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination came in.
He went to the closest church he could find, already packed with African Americans. Everyone was looking for answers. The preacher held up a gun. “Today they killed Martin,” he said, as anger spilled over to the streets.
Not Scott. “This is the opposite of what Martin Luther King Jr. would do,” he thought as he sat there, overwhelmed with grief.
Years later, his younger daughter April Scott-Goss would remember these stories: knowing Dr King through her father’s memories of him. Her father, who grew up with King, spoke of him only when Scott and her sister were older. The stories have remained with her as a reminder and reassurance.
Goss was appointed to the city of Santa Clarita’s Arts Commission in January 2021. Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, she grew up in Pomona.
“When I was 2, my father got a job working for General Dynamics with the Navy. And at that time, that’s when we came to California.”
She moved to Santa Clarita after her mentors at California State University, Los Angeles, suggested CalArts’ film and theater program.
“I had never really thought about film before. I loved the program and when they accepted me I found out I was pregnant. I took a year off before I joined. I moved to Newhall with my husband Mark and our 6-month-old daughter. That’s when I started grad school.”
Goss and her late husband took to the city instantly, impressed both by its serenity and the people. Through her joys and tragedies, she has now grown fonder of Santa Clarita, but has come to call it home. Her husband died only three years after they moved here, making it harder to think of leaving. “I never want to leave. We really found Santa Clarita to be to be home.”
Goss’ thesis film, “Deep in my Heart,” was selected among emerging film makers in 1999. “But it was bittersweet. My father passed away in 1998. So, he never got to see the film. I graduated CalArts in 1999 and in November of the same year, my husband passed away. In December of 1999, I found out I was accepted in the Cannes Film Festival.”
Younger of two sisters, Goss’ inspiration comes from strong women like her elder sibling, Windie Scott, a lawyer by profession. Fourteen years older than her, she provided Scott a resilient and forthcoming woman as a role model.
“Now I understand. It was because of all the injustices that this little girl saw and couldn’t understand: She questioned why she couldn’t sit on the swings on the beach. Or why did she have to sit on the balcony of the movie theater? I see how she felt so strongly looking at this injustice that she became a lawyer, to be able to fight for justice.”
This is Scott’s second year in the Arts Commission. Her presence on the commission emanates a larger message about diversity in the decision-making process. As one of the very few African Americans on any commission here, she hopes for more diversity in the city and on the council and to make art more accessible to the public. “I wish Santa Clarita soon will be the kind of city where people travel to absorb arts.”
“I hope that by seeing the diversity on the council, by seeing me on the (commission), everyone sees that there are opportunities available. I think it will also encourage the city to invite others to join councils and promote films and theater, organize art shows, especially art on the streets.”
Scott is working on a sidewalk poetry project, expected to open this summer if pandemic conditions allow. She’d love to have Santa Clarita’s own amphitheater. She is convinced of Santa Clarita’s immense potential to become the hub of diverse art, like the city itself. “We’re trying to move in that direction, and it’s not that long.”
Scott compares Santa Clarita to New York City, where art is all around, just not noticed enough. “I’m very happy to be a part of the Arts Commission. I love the city and I also love the arts and that’s just who I am. That’s part of my life.”