Southern California Library

Where Making History Is a Struggle

The Crisis in Watts Is Not Over


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On  August 22, 1965, Reverend Stephen Fritchman of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles gave a sermon entitled "The Crisis in Watts Is Not Over."

The sermon is one of the items in the Library's extensive collection of rare Watts 65 materials. Collections like these are available for research at the Library because you have helped to build and support them over the years. Our materials on Watts have been in strong demand all this year, the 50th anniversary of the Watts Rebellion—this demand represents just a fraction of the 1000+ research requests we respond to each year.

You can download a PDF of this sermon here or click on the image.

Highlights of the Library's Recent Watts 65
Projects and Requests

• The Library was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from the California Humanities Community Stories program to explore histories around the urban rebellion that took place in the South Los Angeles community of Watts in 1965. The year-long project builds on a major undertaking by the Library in 1990 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Watts Rebellion and will feature:

A virtual exhibit of historical archives on social movements and lived experiences that gave rise to the rebellion

A resource website for educators with lesson plans, interactive maps and timelines, and primary source documents

Collection and curation of stories both of people who participated in the events of that time and those growing up in the post-Watts 65 era.

The grant marks the third time in the last seven years that the Library has been awarded funding through the Communities Stories program. This success belongs to you, since without your support we wouldn’t have the collections and the track record that made this grant possible. As we move forward, your continued support will make it possible for us to reach thousands of educators and students across the country in learning from histories of struggle and survival like Watts 65.

 

L.A. jazz musician Kamasi Washington asked the Library in July to provide images and documentation on L.A.’s civil unrests as part of a twitter campaign in conjunction with a Grand Performances concert, “65 to 92: The Rhythm Changes But the Struggle Remains.” To see the tweets, and the Library’s images and research, go to https://twitter.com/KamasiW and search on @KamasiW and the hashtag #65to92. A slideshow of the images is also below.

Students at Loyola Marymount University worked with the Library as part of a semester-long engaged learning program to delve into Watts 65 materials across the range of the Library’s collections. The students each identified and selected materials that made an impact on them and helped them to better understand Los Angeles, presenting their findings in a special session at the end of the semester. The “Crisis in Watts Is Not Over” sermon available on this page was selected by one of those students.

• Among the many researchers requesting the Library’s Watts materials this year were a group of middle school students from Bakersfield creating a documentary film for the National History Day contest; an elected official requesting information for a commemorative ceremony; an L.A. lawyer writing a book on UCLA’s Legal Education Opportunity Program during the civil rights era; and a range of media requests including the local Channel 4 TV station; the PBS program, And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK; the KCRW radio program “Press Play” with Madeline Brand; and the L.A. Times.

• The Library’s own intersection with Watts 65 history was also noted in an interview that L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez conducted with community advocate Larry Aubry in August; you can find the article here.