Rufus Thomas

Remembering the 1972 Wattstax concert brings us to crucial voices of Kendrick Lamar, Prince

It was spoken of as sort of a black Woodstock. It featured artists like Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers. And it was right here in L.A.

But judging by its absence in conversations about the '60s and '70s, few remember the 1972 Wattstax concert. It was an answer to the Watts riots of 1965; a chance to counter the destruction with a daylong celebration of black music and culture.

Now, on the 50th anniversary of the Watts riots, the concert is a powerful reminder of where L.A. was in those years directly preceding the uprising in which 34 people died, more than 1,000 were injured and property damage was estimated at $40 million.

For those who weren't born yet, the concert...