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10 ways to explore the complicated legacy of Watts through literature

10 ways to explore the complicated legacy of Watts through literature

The Watts riots, which began 50 years ago, on Aug. 11, 1965, were sparked by a traffic stop. This they share in common with the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Unlike that later disturbance, however, Watts provoked a literary foment as the city struggled — and in many ways continues to struggle — with the uprising and what it meant. This is not surprising; Watts has a deep literary and cultural history. It goes back at least as far as 1931, when Arna Bontemps published his novel “God Sends Sunday.” Recalling his upbringing in the first decade of the 20th century, he describes a community in which “the streets … were three or four dusty wagon paths. In the...

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