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ARLH 208- Week 10: Did The 1965 Watts Riots Change Anything?

Aug 14, 2023

Each week you will write a total of two to three pages and You must pick at least one article from the Weekly Reading folders and one film from the lecture to write about. You may also use two readings. Please make sure you include the title of the article and the film. You are also able to do extra credit worth up to 5 or ten points or extra films or articles or the extra credit from the syllabus. Attach your extra credit of at least a 1-2 page to the weekly submission for it to count. Please use the following format in either doc or pdf format:

Read Article: Did The 1965 Watts Riots Change Anything?

Week 10: Did The 1965 Watts Riots Change Anything?

            The Article ‘Did The 1965 Watts Riots Change Anything?’ by Livia Gershon investigates the importance of the Watt Riots in the Black Lives Matter Movement. The article emphasizes the Watts Riots in the Watts neighborhood and the surrounding Los Angeles Area (Gershon, 2016, p.1). This riot was ignited when Marquette Frye, a 21 Year old Black Man was stopped by the police and forced to take a sobriety test. After failing the sobriety test Frye refused to coordinate with the police due to the fear of losing his life in custody. In the struggle where her mother was also involved, the police officials struck Frye in the face with a baton. The ensuing fight invited a lot of onlookers, and the news quickly spread as wildfire. A rumour began circulating that during the struggle the law officials brutally kicked a pregnant woman. The events accelerated the already growing unrest amongst the black community regarding police cruelty, and slowly the movement turned into a full-blown riot, causing a huge amount of financial and livelihood loss. The riots also according to various reports left a distaste in citizens and was extremely unpopular. Though as the article cites when researchers interacted with the people of the neighbourhood the story was quite different. Sears and Tomlinson revealed that in their study which included more than 500 African Americans, Fifty Eight Percent expected it to have a positive influence. The narrative that was spread, that only anti-social elements were involved in the riots was also found to be false, as 22 percent of African Americans in the survey accepted that they had some role in the Riots. In the Los Angeles Country Area, 75% of White People felt that the riots instead of helping actually hurt the ‘Negro’s Cause’. Though the White Population lived in the affected area, the stats of people thinking of Riots with a negative connotation was extremely low, just 24%. 38% Whites in the Curfew Area actually thought of it to be a revolution. The attitude towards the law officials was divided, as two-thirds of White People thought they did a good job, while the opposite opinion was held by two-thirds of the Black people. The riots brought out the brewing dissatisfaction for the police officials by African Americans to the forefront, if proper measures were taken after that incident, then the situation wouldn’t have deteriorated to its present condition. The author concludes by showing the different perspectives of Black and White people regarding the riots.

The documentary Paved with Good Intentions: How Urban Renewal Crushed Pittsburgh focuses on how Urban Renewal affected Pittsburgh. The video begins by mentioning that Urban Renewal was presented as a promise of renewed hope, but in actuality, it led to disaster. The disaster was especially subjected to people from poor strata of society and minorities who were brutally displaced from their homes with little to no resources. In August 1960 almost 26 buildings went through leveling which also included hospitality in order to bring in various industrial companies. One of the main reasons Pittsburgh wanted to go through Urban Renewal was because they wanted to improve their economic prospects by bringing in industrialization. The next 60 years witnessed a cycle of demolition and construction in Pittsburgh. The concept of Urban Renewal came due to the Post War Economic Boom that America Experienced. The plan of Urban Renewal came into being because the authorities wanted to reduce urban blight. As years have gone by the term Blight has been connected with race. Hill District, occupied majorly by Haitian immigrants, suffered much decline due to this procedure of Urban Renewal. Little Harlem as it was popularly called was a bustling town before World War 2. Due to the setbacks, it faced after the war, the authorities pushed the Urban Development plan for the area. The Urban Development Plan led to the shifting of mostly Black Families into Nearby Public Housing. The influx of Black People in the surrounding areas caused ‘White Flight’. The Black communities did not like the displacement they were subjected to, in order to make a place for white people to play. This increased the divide further. The low-income housing was made in commercial areas. This led to a huge disaster for businesses, as the low-income housing became a hub of criminal activities and threatened the consumers away from the commercial areas. Thus, Urban Redevelopment for all intents and purposes proved to be dastardly for areas like East Liberty High.


Gershon, L. (2016), Did The 1965 Watts Riots Change Anything? 1-3

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