Occupation: Executive Director of Hillel at USC – Nonprofit position in higher education
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: April 24, 2014
Primary Language: English
So my name is Bailey London, and I come from a family that has been multi-generational Angelenos. I’ve lived in LA for a long time, and my great-great-grandfather was born in Latvia and was in the trade industry, and he did a lot of business in the city of London. And they – his friends in Latvia had nicknamed him “The Londoner” because he was going back and forth so much, and he decided to move his family to the United States and they took a little stop in New York, and then made their way out to Los Angeles to start little Jewish businesses that were very typical. And he raised two sons in Los Angeles. Samuel, who’s my great-grandfather, and Milton, who’s my great-uncle. And Milton – Zevudnik – decided that he wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor in Los Angeles. And Milton Zevudnik applied for admission to the University of Southern California. And at the time there were quotas – how many Jewish students were accepted every year. And Milton Zevudnik was not accepted. To the USC. So he came home and he was really upset, and he thought, “Y’know, I’m really qualified. I know I’m more qualified than other people who got in to school.” And he decided that everyone had always called his father “The Londoner” and he was going to go to city hall and change his name to Milton London. So he went to city hall, changed his name to Milton London, and then he was a little bit concerned that the university would do some snooping into the rest of the family. And he convinced his brother to change his last name to Samuel London. And so everyone became the Londons instead of the Zevudniks. And Milton applied to med school at USC as Milton London and got in. And became a very successful doctor and was really instrumental in the formation of Cedar Sinai Medical Center and he had his academic success and growth at USC, which originally did not want him to come to school here based on the fact that he was Jewish. And I love that many people in my family have now gone to school and graduated from USC, myself included, and now I find my career at USC. and I’m very appreciative that my name is Bailey LONDON, and not Bailey Zevudnik, although I do keep this story very dear to my heart. I really connect to this story because I think it shows a lot about the community in Los Angeles and the community at USC, and the way a family that didn’t get into school here is now a part of the professional team.
Who told you this story?
It’s been passed down – for YEARS I heard about how, “Don’t go to USC. They didn’t let Uncle Milty in” and that my grandfather – so, the son of Sam is my grandfather – isn’t that a movie? – so he’s my grandfather – he went to UCLA. So even more reason that they didn’t want me to go to USC, but my grandmother on the other side went to USC. And when I got in it was a big deal – “YOU KNOW, THEY DIDN’T LET MILTY IN at first” and it was a big thing in our family. I always knew this story – and I actually told this story at my job interview because another thing about my name is people always assume I’m not Jewish. Because Bailey London does not sound very Jewish. Which I hate when people say. And they asked me in my interview – which I actually thought was inappropriate – and I told this story. And I made a joke that they owed me the job now. Because of what they did to my family. Clearly it worked.
I have heard many stories among Jewish families about how their name came to be the way it is – I’m accustomed to Ellis Island/arrival stories, since there’s one like it in my family. It is not uncommon for Jewish immigrants to have had their names changed to “sound less Jewish.”