In an age when social media activism has spurred significant change and sparked awareness about structural racism, police brutality, and injustices across the world, it’s easy to imagine that historic incidents such as the 1965 Watts Riots would be widely documented and shared throughout the internet.
While it isn’t immediately clear what impact that visibility may have had during those six days (Aug. 11-17), a Twitter account (dubbed @WattsRiots50) created just before the 50th anniversary of the uprising, set out to paint a picture of what we may have witnessed if social media existed in those days. Today, a day after the riots ended five decades ago, we take a look at the event that left thousands injured, property torched, 34 dead, but also exposed just how viciously America’s law enforcement reacts to justified Black trauma.
The project was created by California Endowment’s Sons and Brothers in partnership with Community Coalition of South LA to provide context to the 1965 event through a medium that is accessible to everyone, especially younger people. Historical accounts by elders, photographs, newspapers and footage was provided by the Watts Library to accurately and realistically depict the events.
The anniversary also happens to coincide with the one year anniversary of the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, inviting a comparison between the events.
“We know the past is connected and the same questions asked 50 years ago are coming up today,” Evangeline Reyes, program officer with the California Endowment said. “In South LA, people of color are marked as threats, interactions with police can be frequent and dangerous.”
Take a look at some of the “live tweets” below. And follow the account for a historic look at the aftermath of the uprising.
SOURCE: Twitter, PBS | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter