Known on the streets as "Little Mama," nationally recognized gang expert Dr. Jorja Leap spent years studying Los Angeles gang culture to understand why men and women in underserved communities join gangs.
"I think that if each person could even hear the story of one gang member, their views would change radically," Leap said.
In this episode of "LA Stories," host Giselle Fernandez profiles the renowned UCLA anthropologist, whose die-hard mission is to share the stories of those she's come to know.
Using the knowledge she gained firsthand by earning the trust of gang members, Leap penned "Jumped In: What Gangs Taught Me About Violence, Drugs, Love, and Redemption" and "Project Fatherhood: A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America's Toughest Communities."
In her writings, Leap delves deep into gang life to prove to the world that these people deserve help and attention.
Leap's studies inspired her to co-found the Watts Leadership Institute, which provides guidance and resources to community leaders and organizations to help and create positive change in the neighborhood of Watts.
Leap works tirelessly to bring change, recognition and hope to these communities. She wants to show the world that we are stronger united than we are separate.
Watch "LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez" at 9 p.m. every Monday on Spectrum News 1.