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World House Podcast: Episode 17 -1965 Watts Rebellion

Martin Luther King Jr., Selma, AL, reading news report of Watts Riots, Aug. 1965 Stanford University. Libraries. Department of Special Collections.

Bob Fitch

Oct 22 2020
On Wednesday, 11 August 1965, Watts, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, became a battleground for one of the most violent confrontations between police and  African Americans during the 1960s. The arrest of Marquette Frye, a 21-year-old black man, triggered six days of unrest, resulting in 34 deaths, over 1,000 injuries, nearly 4,000 arrests, and the destruction of property valued at $40 million. 
At that time, Clayborne Carson lived in Los Angeles and witnessed these events as they unfolded in the late summer of 1965.  In this episode, Carson talks about his activism as a member of the Non-Violent Action Committee (N-VAC). He recalls the Watts Rebellion and explains its impact on the civil rights struggle. The Watts uprising confirmed Martin Luther King Jr.'s urge to expands the movement from the segregated South to include the urban North. Simultaneously, young black activists grew increasingly impatient with King's nonviolent tactics and, embracing a greater degree of militancy, began demanding black power for black people. 


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Clayborne Carson, Liberation Curriculum