Community activist Luther Keith is a people investor

Doing a kind deed can go a long way. For some people, helping others is what they want to do for the rest of their lives. For more than two decades, one Compton resident has done this by committing himself to assist every single person that he meets.

Luther Keither Jr. has been helping people with his family since he was young. He still continues to help people by going around the Los Angeles County region with the responsibility of serving the people around him, distinctly to those who are less fortunate. Keith however is not just a community leader. He is a father figure, coach, mentor, role model, a man of God, and above all that, a people person.

Keith, also known as “Big Boo,” has been living in Compton and Inglewood since he was a child.  Being raised in a religious home, Keith learned how to spend his time wisely and be charitable with people he came across. 

Compton Mayor Asa Brown
Luther Keith (left) a renowned community activist, coach and gang intervention specialist in South Los Angeles and Compton, hangs out with Compton Mayor Asa Brown. Photo credit: Luther Keith

“My entire family has been a blessing to a lot of folks who unfortunately didn’t have nothing,” Keith said. “They were always doing something for somebody. There ain’t a day somebody comes by and my mother would feed them or pick them up for a ride.”  

As a kid, Keith’s parents worked and continue to serve at Central Baptist Church in Inglewood where his father, Dr. Luther B. Keith Sr. is a pastor. His mother, Dr. Lizzie Keith, taught as a Sunday school teacher. The Keith family has also been involved in foster care and have been guardians for more than 55 years. From there, Keith saw firsthand how his family helped people who needed money, needed clothes, a car ride, or even a place to call home for a while.

“Through my mother and father, I saw how they were helping other people,” Keith said.

Keith, who is familiar with how the foster care system, worked additionally began taking care of the youth for nine years and in the group homes as a child care worker. 

“I’m passionate about the youth,” Keith said. “Some of these kids don’t have mothers or fathers, so I try to embrace them. I’ll be their uncle and teach them the right way. Especially, if it’s a young man. So when they get to a certain age, they can be prepared to go into the real world.”

By viewing the good his parents did, it was only right he did the same. Since 1999, Keith has been feeding and helping clothe the homeless throughout Southern California, hopping around cities like Inglewood, Torrance, Compton, Watts, Los Angeles, Skid Row, and Long Beach. Keith provides food, water, blankets, jackets, shoes, care packages, or whatever they needed at the moment to feel comfortable.  

“I saw people sleeping at the bus stops, sleeping in the allies, sleeping at the parks and I looked and said these folks look hungry,” Keith said. “So I started going to the food banks and started going to the local stores and schools to get whatever food they didn’t throw away. I asked for it and they turned me down for the first two weeks, but the third week they eventually gave me the food and I started giving food to the homeless.”

Putting in the work: Part of what makes activist Luther Keith a community leader is his relentless work doing for others. Among other things, Keith routinely feeds the homeless and is involved with local youth. Photo credit: Luther Keith

These days Keith no longer has to worry about finding food or clothes to deliver to the homeless as he now receives donations from a variety of locations. Those who have donated to Keith’s charity cause include former classmates of his, his church community, and people on various social media platforms have donated to his cause. 

Alongside his work with the homeless, Keith is also involved in gang intervention where he helps people who are currently in or trying to get out of the gang lifestyle. He would help gang members get into school, get jobs, the ministry, and get them into halfway house. On top of that, he also assisted in graffiti removal as part of the youth gang service he partook in. 

Growing up in the Compton area was no easy task for Keith, but his love for sports and activities is what kept him away from the gangs. Keith found himself playing baseball at Compton Centennial High School where he ended up getting a full-ride to Southern University. Baseball was so well to Keith that he found himself trying out for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1988.

“By me playing sports, it helped me respect my community,” Keith said. Growing up in Compton it was tough, when they took our parks you had the youngsters stop playing ball and start banging. We had a lot of talent out there and lost a lot of folks to death or prison.” 

One of the issues that Keith noted in Compton was the removal of some of the local parks. With there being no place for the kids to play, many have joined up with the gangs at a young age. This is one reason why Keith believes in supporting the youth and speaking to them. 

By coaching, Keith hopes to convince young people that they can be whatever they want to be in life if they motivate themselves and stay out of trouble. He always tries to keep his kids on the right path by telling them to make the right choices.

“I just want our youths to see if you don’t make it into sports, you can be a doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, a judge, a mayor; you can be a city council member, be a preacher, a deacon, or an engineer,” Keith said. “So I’m teaching these youngsters coming up that they are the future, you know because if they are in elementary, middle school, high school.”

Keith has even gone back to Centennial High School to work as an assistant coach for the football team. When Keith is not coaching or dropping off food somewhere, he is protecting people in a community that has been hit hard by gang violence. Since 2009, Keith has worked as the head of security detail for the Drew League.

The Drew League, a well-respected pro-am basketball league in Watts (King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science), made its official debut in the summer of 1973. Of course, Keith is still involved with the church his father oversees. Keith is now part of the ministry, following in his father’s footsteps who still preaches to this day. If Keith is not preaching, then he is singing in the church choir. 

Community activist Luther Keith
Community activist Luther Keith always makes time for people in the community he serves and works in. Photo credit: Luther Keith

By lecturing and leading by example, Keith has set a priority to spend his time with all sorts of people who are in need. His commitment to his community, his neighbors, and the youth is what drives him to make sure there is a better tomorrow for everyone. 

“Make sure you do what you’re supposed to do, take care of your family, stay close to the good Lord, be respectful, and be the person the Lord wants you to be,” Keith said. “Bless somebody, just like I tell folks today, be blessed to somebody who might not be able to eat, to somebody that don’t got no clothes, somebody that got no jacket, or walking barefoot. I make sure to give encouraging words.” 

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