Watts 1965: Moments to Reflect On

The 1965-Watts Revolt grew out of a crowd who witnessed the perpetual dynamics between law enforcement and a black family in South Los Angeles.  On August 11, 1965, Marquette Frye was driving with his brother, Ronald, who had just gotten home from the military.  Marquette was pulled over for drunk driving at the intersection of Avalon and 116th Street.  A crowd, who witnessed the stop, gathered and continued to witness how the incident escalated. Many media outlets and books offer summaries and portrayals of this incident and are easily accessible. We encourage you to learn more about the incident,  Marquette and his family’s life after the six days of revolt. Think about how this impacted the family.   

History took place on these very streets.

History took place on these very streets.

The curfew zone set in place included a 45 square mile radius, but the days that followed highlight the Charcoal Alley in Watts, a 2.5 square mile neighborhood.  Why was the focus on Watts?  What was going on at the time that led a community to engage in revolt? The answer can be found in the endless obstacles that stood in the way of a high quality of life for residents of Watts. At that period of time, many Watts community members lacked the basic means for human dignity and were left with under-performing schools, lack of access to quality health care, substandard housing, high unemployment rates, and constant violent encounters with law enforcement.

The revolt intensified on Friday, August 13, 1965 (exactly 50 years ago today) and about 2,300 National Guardsmen joined the local police; the number increased by August 14.

The incident with Marquette could be perceived in many ways, but at the time many used it to perpetuate an interpretation of Watts as a violent community. Of course the unjust living conditions of its residents was left out of this narrative.

As we continue to remember 1965 Watts, please take the time to reflect and learn more about U.S race relations, community development and advocacy, and policing over the last 50 years.  Think about what we can learn from 1965 Watts and how we can move forward as a people advocating for basic human dignity and quality of life.  Are we repeating history or have we progressed?

We also invite you to join the many events over the next half of the year and the rest of this week.  Come to Watts and witness, first hand, our resilient life, culture, and identity!

Check the dates and times for special events in Watts this August.

Check the dates and times for special events in Watts this August.


The Results Are In! Join Us to Learn More.

The Watts Community Studio team recently finished the preliminary analysis of the 695 residential and 50 small business surveys that were completed this summer in Watts. Keeping in mind that this project aims to inform economic development and planning policy for Watts, we are very excited to present these findings to community stakeholders.

Cynthia presents Watts Community Studio findings.

Today we debuted our findings and recommendations at a meeting of local stakeholders, held in the Council District 15 Watts field office. This upcoming Friday, November 1st, we are presenting our findings again to a meeting of community-based and faith-based organizations at the same location from 3:00pm – 4:30pm. The general public is able to attend, however, you must RSVP. Seating for the general public is first come, first serve. Refreshments and food will be provided.

Here’s a preview of some of the exciting things we learned this summer:

  • 36% of small business owners in Watts have been in Watts for over 10 years!
  • Residents ranked the top 3 neighborhood priorities as Employment, Physical Activities and Neighborhood Cleanliness
  • Many residents believe that Watts is improving.

Can you guess what the labor force participation rate is for Watts? Come this Friday and find out!

Friday, 11.1.13 at 3:00pm – 4:30pm 

10221 Compton Ave., Suite 200

Los Angeles, CA 90002 

RSVP Required at wattscommunitystudio@gmail.com