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Navaline Smith, The Last Lady Standing, a Local Fighter for Housing Rights, Writes Her Story

Navaline Smith, Author, The Last Lady Standing in Ujima Village”, at her book signing in Compton. Click on photo to see video of Navaline discuss Ujima Village Housing.                                                                                             Photo courtesy Navaline Smith


The Southern Truth

“The California Politicians tried to take me down. They used every tactic in their arsenal to make me quit fighting for justice. It was only through prayer and keeping my faith that God had other plans for me.”

Navaline Smith, Author, “The Last Lady Standing

By Gloria Zuurveen, Editor-in-Chief

Navaline “Novi” Smith gives all glory to God for her being the last lady to stand up for her rights as a long term tenant in the Ujima Village Housing in Watts.

According to Navi, the majority of the residents received $1,500 and a section 8 voucher to relocate. The class action lawsuit suit was thrown out because the attorney said we should have known it was contaminated before we moved in. Many have died and many are still suffering from what appears to have been willful neglect when hundred of Watts resident of Ujima Village Housing had to be replaced and relocated from their comfortable abodes they called homes in the Watts housing project called Ujima Village public housing which was built in the 70s for a predominantly Black community of low income and mostly subsidized residents.

They were herded out in the desert like sheep gone astray, Lancaster, Palmdale and other unknown territories. They were left to die and to struggle to make ends meet and some have died with horrible cancers, never-ever receiving any compensation or justice. But not Novi, that’s what I call her. No. Not Navi, she demanded more. She demanded more than to be simply pushed out the door. She stood her ground and withstood the California Politicians, the ones who tried to take her down. “It’s in the book.” Read it for yourself and please don’t simply lay it on the shelf, but pass it own or buy one for another but for sure have a tea party and share with your sisters and your brothers. They may have encountered Novi’s story and can for sure attest to the injustice she stood firmly against and demanded that if she move from Ujima Village she would not go to another project. “It will be a home,” and she said it bluntly.

Navi, as you can see from the words in the book, is someone to be emulated and imitated. She has stood her ground and caused many in the City and the County of Los Angeles to back down. Yes, they backed down from trying to keep her down and from speaking up for what was right and because of her tenacity she prevailed and on several occasions she was threaten with jail if she didn’t go along with the status quo and do like all the rest who had been forced to follow the command and the unrighteous demand or else you will have no other place to go. But Navi said, “It ain’t so. I will not go without a fight.” Thus we now have The Last Lady Standing, Navi’s story and how God answered her prayer and honored her faith to stand trusting and leaning on only God’s plan.

Yes, she was The Last Lady Standing and now she has put her experience in this  book and it is worth the reading because she has a lot to say but not only does she has a lot to say but she also has a message about housing and how to break the cycle of poverty through homeownership and how she wants to show others the way. Novi was strong and she held on working for her a new home. A new home which would give her the power and the stability to grow and to be instrumental in showing others the way.

Navi let her light shine on the issue of housing and on those who were in positions to exercise the release of the chains of poverty through homeownership were in the way and were instruments of perpetual enslavement to government assistance instead of rising up and being economic independent through owning a home to call their own.  She is an example and one to be adored and never ignored, because she stood up against those who would defy and deny her and try to make her believe that she had to follow all the other residents who they had removed by force and not by choice. They were removed from the environmental disaster which appears that everybody knew accept all the residents.

An excerpt from Navi’s book, The Last Lady Standing is profound and provocative and calls for, I believe, a detailed investigation of a “Cold Case of Coverup” relating to Ujima Village and all who were involved and now more than ever, especially after you have some of the elected officials who Navi speaks about have been literally convicted not of one crime but many in an indictment and a loss of appeal.

Navi says in the book, “The California Politicians tried to take me down. They used every tactic in their arsenal to make me quit fighting for justice. It was only through prayer and keeping my faith that God had other plans for me. I was The Last Lady Standing in Ujima Village Housing who fought the good fight. This true story encompasses the knowledge,    documentation, and understanding that greed in a person’s heart will cause them to lie, cheat, steal, and kill to cover up the truth. The facts can’t be denied. What was once called an ‘Oasis’ for the working-class minority family, it was anything but for 300 families either poisoned, lied to, and / or displaced. Once bordered by fields, lakes, and the hope for a better future, they evacuated the Ujima Village, leaving only my family to remain. Our community deserved the truth. We depended on those elected to have our best interest at heart. You will see they only thought of their own interests in the tune of greed or position. With trust broken, the Last Lady Standing reveals the lies told to the community and residents of Ujima Village. In this book, Navaline Smith, The Last Lady Standing in Ujima Village tells her story of courage, no matter the cost. She provides evidence that our city and country officials entrusted to expose lies and corruption, did instead cover-up the poisonous schemes to keep themselves in power, and with recent events of corruption and conviction, it just goes to show that some have been corrupt from the beginning, Learn the facts behind the lies of the Ujima Village Housing debacle. Trust and believe this can happen to anyone, including you!” This book, I believe, gets to the core of the corruptness of the heart when you have seen and have talked to former Ujima Village residents the way I have for a front page cover story in PACE NEWS several years ago when the tragic was brought to may attention.

Congratulation to Navi for keeping the movement for fair housing alive and well and now it’s time to hold those accountable for causing so much hell. Look at the streets and tell me what you see? People. Lying all over the place and most of them are Black and some are probably Ujima Village residents and never found their way like The Last Lady Standing who stood, had her say, won and now she says, “It’s not over because is not done.”  There are too many others who were victims of this wrong. In a PACE NEWS article about the matter, Shell Oil Company was listed as the company with the environmental issues but the residents didn’t know until all the sickness started to show.

There was an investigation and town hall meetings on television and you can even see it on YouTube about the contaminated site and its detrimental foundation that was causing people sick, so much so, that they had to move and have the village destroyed but not before Navi left, even though she was The Last Lady Standing  and she was all alone at Ujima Village,  the place she still called her home, it had no maintenance, no gardening service, no basic necessities nor property upkeep because Ujima Village had been left in a mess it was all left up to Navi to do the rest.

Navi, didn’t care and she continued to protest. She protested being herded away out in the desert, like Lancaster and Palmdale, because to Navi it didn’t matter she was not going to another public housing when she could get the required dollars she needed to be a homeowner. This book is an eye-opener and it tell a real story that makes me think about what my mama use to say,  “If the shoe fit, wear it.” No names called but when you read Navi’s book you can get it all about her fight for her housing rights. She knew what she wanted and she didn’t back down and now she has a book that tell others about how she stood her ground.

The Last Lady Standing, pick it up today and help Novi help others to find their way out of the perpetual public housing welfare trap when they too can be fulfilled homeowners and never look back like “The Lady Standing”, Navaline Smith.




  1. Anita Davis on August 5, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you so much for telling your story. We appreciate your strength, your courage, and always help in the underdog you are one of a kind and God sent we thank you I think you Mrs. Smith. never let nothing or no one dim your light you are shining star for all of us. Keep doing what you doing young lady and thank you for being my friend.

  2. Sharon Dantzler on August 5, 2023 at 10:36 pm

    I have read the book and it is a story everyone needs to read. This is a true testament of perserverance!

  3. Sharon Dantzler on August 5, 2023 at 10:39 pm

    This is a true testament of Perseverance! Everyone needs to read this story. She fought and did not waiver. Bravo Novi! Bravo!

  4. Sandi on August 7, 2023 at 11:51 am

    I’ve read Novi’s book, The Last Lady Standing in Ujima Village. It’s a page turner! I couldn’t stop reading and wanted to know more about this courageous, daughter, mother, and talented woman! I know many people will connect with Novi’s experience with institutions that
    weren’t created to help us! But she said NO to the system and Won! This is a must read!

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