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CITY ARTS : Festival Fever

August 08, 1993|SANDRA HERNANDEZ

Billed as the city's oldest African-American festival, the Watts Summer Festival has seen some lean times since it began, but organizers say this year's celebration marks a new era.

"There has been a renaissance," said Naomi Henyard, a festival coordinator. "There was a lull for quite a few years and people weren't sure where the festival was. But this year, there is a real determination to make this festival more of a community event, as it was intended to be."

The five-day event, which begins Wednesday, will feature art, music, films, rides and workshops at Lanzit Site. This year's festival marks the first time in more than a decade the festival will be in the community where it began.

The theme of this year's festival is "Together We Can." "The premise has always been to present African-American culture but not to show how different it is, but rather to show how much we have in common," said Ralph Sutton, a festival spokesman.

Organizers say the festival's focus is still to "redirect the energies of our community into tangible, positive solutions and alternatives to our problems," said founder Tommy Jacquette.

The festival was started the year after the 1965 Watts riots to raise awareness in the area and remember the 34 who were killed in that civil disturbance.

The free event is sponsored by the Brotherhood Crusade.

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Watts Summer Festival, Wednesday through Aug. 15, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Lanzit Site, 111th Place. Admission is free. Information: (213) 789-1956.

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