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The Watts Uprising

The Watts uprising began on August 11, 1965 with a relatively minor police incident and ended five days later with thirty-four people dead and over a thousand people injured. The Governor's Commission report on the events, "Violence in the City" (more commonly referred to as the "McCone Commission Report"), described the uprising as being "a formless, quite sudden senseless, all but hopeless, all but hopeless violent protest" (5). The report's reductive description of the events failed to represent, ignored, or omitted the real cause: the long history of systematic racism that fueled unemployment, abject poverty, and, thus, desperation and frustration in the people of Watts and the surrounding South Los Angeles neighborhoods.

For more on the uprising, read "The Embers of August 1965" and the Fire This Time by Gerald Horne as well as a series of 2015 Los Angeles Times articles written in response to the uprising's 50th anniversary.

To learn about the early history of African Americans in Los Angeles, read Marne L. Campbellā€™s Making Black Los Angeles: Class, Gender, and Community, 1850-1917.