Congresswoman Janice Hahn reflects on Watts civil unrest
Commentary: Issues that tormented Watts have not been completely resolved; racism, poverty, poor education, crime By CONGRESSWOMAN JANICE HAHN It has been 50 years since Los Angeles and our nation were rocked by the Watts Riots. Unyielding poverty,
Commentary: Issues that tormented Watts have not been completely resolved; racism, poverty, poor education, crime
By CONGRESSWOMAN JANICE HAHN
It has been 50 years since Los Angeles and our nation were rocked by the Watts Riots. Unyielding poverty, discrimination and inequality built up for years in the Watts community until anger and frustration boiled over that hot summer night. When it was all over, 34 people had lost their lives, more than 1,000 were injured, and 200 buildings were destroyed.
Watts was seriously damaged and it would take years even decades to recover.
The impact was felt far beyond South L.A. as Watts came to symbolize the problems that many urban areas have experienced. We continue to see these same issues and hear the voices of protest and demands for change in cities across the country.
After the riots, the community of Watts came together —neighborhood residents, activists, and leaders — to rebuild and work towards a better future. My father, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenny Hahn, worked with the community he represented to put forward the goals they expressed and gain the resources they demanded: a hospital for their families; good schools for their kids; and law enforcement they could trust.
Today there is progress that the people of Watts can be proud of, from the Watts Gang Task Force to the newly opened Martin Luther King Community Hospital. Still, the issues that tormented the Watts community in 1965 have not been completely resolved.
In Los Angeles and across the country, communities continue to battle with institutional racism, poverty, poor education, limited job opportunities, crime, violence and other problems.
The Black Lives Matter movement is an effort to address some of these concerns, especially focused on the growing list of unarmed African-Americans who have been abused or even killed by law enforcement.
These are the challenges facing this generation of activists as we reflect on 50 years since the Watts riots. I stand firmly with them and anyone else who is committed to staying in the fight, as together we move toward the Watts imagined by heroes past (Ted Watkins, Tommy Jacquette, Edna Aliewine), present (Sweet Alice Harris, Arturo Ybarra, Arvella Grigsby), and 50 years into the future.
Congresswoman Janice Hahn represents Watts in the U.S. House of Representatives and previously represented Watts on the L.A. City Council.