Race

Revisiting the Watts Riots of August 1965 and the Reason your Vote Matters

MEMPHIS, TENN. | (Divine Army News) written by Shariee Jones, Contributing Journalist | Public opinion does matter and your vote...

MEMPHIS, TENN. | (Divine Army News)
 written by Shariee Jones, Contributing Journalist |

Public opinion does matter and your vote does, too. Years of struggle have gone into establishing freedom of expression for Americans, especially black people. Today, most African Americans are still struggling with their identity and a right to their native land in the United States of America. African Americans have set the pace for other minorities to find freedom in the American Melting Pot. Seasons have changed; growth has happened among the human race but still today there is an attitude of hostility that needs to be deflated so history doesn’t repeat itself. Let’s take a step back in time to Los Angeles, August 11, 1965.

The Incident

Minorities had many struggles during the early 1960s, by trying to establish justice and residency among society. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed to balance race relations among society. This federal law was put to the challenge by states, for example, in the Proposition 14 clause that was created by California. Proposition 14 blocked the fair housing section of the Civil Rights Act. According to a PBS article on A Huey P. Newton Story-Times-Watts Riots, “This created anger and a feeling of injustice within the inner cities.”

African-Americans’ rights weren’t being accepted, but by law, there was potential for their rights to be established. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into federal law on August 6, 1965. This bill was written into law for blacks to have the same rights as whites. This Act prohibited the states from using literacy tests that had infringed upon constitutional rights and other methods used to exclude African-Americans from voting. This bill created a significant change within the South, but new and unresolved issues were still at hand. Discrimination, high jobless rates, bad schools, poor housing, and the failure of the Rumford Fair Housing Act caused an outcry nationwide.

A violent rage settled through the city of Los Angeles, CA, because of speculation of police brutality. “On Wednesday August 11, 1965 rioting broke out in the Watts area of Los Angeles, CA, following the arrest of a suspected drunk driver by California Highway Patrol officers,” according to 1965 Watts Riots Police Radio Calls. This information had come across the LAPD’s radio frequencies that were “broadcasted and filed” during the times when dispatchers shared a single radio frequency.

Lee W. Minikus, a California Highway Patrolman, pulled over motorist Marquette Frye and his brother Ronald because of a said complaint by a passing motorist of reckless driving. Frye failed the sobriety test that led to a resistance of arrest and the onlooking crowd had grown in numbers. Mrs. Frye, the mother of the motorist, had come to pick up her son’s vehicle as more officers had arrived on the scene. Officers wouldn’t give her the car, and therefore she had become angrier which led to all three of the Fryes’ arrest. The officers had begun to hit the brothers with their nightsticks because they supposedly resisted arrest. The onlooking crowd had become larger and hostile due to the treatment of the Fryes. Within a few minutes there had grown “more than 1000 persons in the crowd,” according to the Los Angeles Commissioner’s Committee review of 144 hours in August 1965.


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Written by Shariee Jones, D.D.
With some musical influences of Jazz, Pop, Rock, and Hip-Hop legends, Shariee continues to strive toward excellence as an artist and writer. During her college years, she became the associate editor of StreetMaster’s Magazine based in Memphis, TN following her internship with The University of Memphis’ newspaper, The Daily Helmsman. She also covered the Dub’s Magazine Car Concert and Tour southern events annually as an invited journalist. Starting as her grad project, Shariee created HyPhaze, a fashion and entertainment online magazine, geared toward teens and young adults in hopes of becoming a positive voice in society. In 2009, she decided to let go of HyPhaze and created Model Definition Evangelical Interfaith Ministry before enrolling at Barclay College to study Theology. She is a graduate of The University of Memphis and Barclay College. Shariee is an urban visionary, writer, and entertainer. Profile

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