October 29, 2012
I was an African American storeowner during the Watts Riots in LA in the 1960s. I witnessed the destruction of my neighborhood. I witnessed the pain and despair that overwhelmed so many people because they were a part of a state that did not care to fix the issues that their urban cities were facing every day. Countless of individuals were filled with so much anger and loss of hope for a better future.
In the 1960s, Los Angeles had very few neighborhoods that African Americans were “allowed” to live in. Watts progressively became a neighborhood of black poverty surrounded by middle class white suburbs. Watts was a tense area with high unemployment and little opportunity to succeed. It suffered from inadequate hospitals and schools and was a constant target for police brutality (BlackPast.org v2.0, 2011).
The approval of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 seemed to mark a turning point in America; a new age in race relations appeared to be emerging. However, countless states acted quickly to avoid the new federal law. California reacted with Proposition 14, “which moved to block the fair housing components of the Civil Rights Act”, according to University Library at USC (para. 1). Still with strong feelings of injustice and despair, this fueled the anger within the urban cities of LA especially Watts.
August 11, 1965 marked the beginning of the Watts Riots when a white LA police officer stopped a motorist and his brother blocks away from their home for suspected drunk driving. The scene escalated to more white officers arriving and beating the brothers with their batons. The crowd had grown and by this point, they become angry at the unlawful beatings on the brothers. After this horrific scene, the crowd and tension escalated and sparked the notorious Watts Riots (Luna Ray Films, LLC, 2002).
The morning after the arrests tension within the Watts neighborhood was still at a high. In result of that, the...
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