Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Watts Riots

The riots began on August 11, 1965, when a California patrolman arrested Marquette Frye, an African American man, for DUI. Tension between the officer and a crowd watching Frye’s arrest turned violent, and incited a large-scale riot in the Watts neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. Predominantly African American and very poor, Watts saw fires, looting, and gun fights over six days, resulting in 34 deaths, over 1,000 injuries, and $50–150 million in property damage. About 14,000 National Guard troops responded to restore order. A later investigation revealed that longstanding tensions, unemployment rates, dilapidated housing, and poor schools precipitated the events.