The National Guard were in our yard. They were very nice. But they were doing their job. I guess the reason why they got along with my mom, is that she made sweet potato pies. She was out there feeding them.
It was very hot, and my mom didn't want us to go out. There were a lot of fires, a lot of broken glass, a lot of misunderstandings. A lot of hurt, pain, disgust, anger, frustration, vexation.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday August 12, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Watts riots -- A photo caption with an article in Thursday's Section A about the 40th anniversary of the Watts riots misidentified attorney A.L. Wirin as A.L. Winn.
I was scared. There was a lot of shooting even while the National Guard were there. The stores were closed. The lights went out. The buildings were burning. We had to put the windows down because we couldn't breathe that well. We were afraid that the house was going to burn down; there were embers in the sky.
The house wasn't damaged at all. But the stores were burned. Today, they have a shopping center there, but it's nothing like having those individual stores. It was a family thing. You could get credit from those little stores.
There were a lot of mom-and-pop stores, five-and-dime stores and furniture stores. The furniture was good. But we had a lot of problems with the food. The food was rotten. To get better prices and better food, we had to travel to other parts of L.A.
The mood of the people after the riots? Some of them were still angry, wondering what was it all for. Because now they didn't have the stores they had frequented or the facilities they needed. The government was slow in providing the different things they needed.
We didn't have bars on the doors or windows at the time. There is a lot of gang activity now, where there wasn't then.
Voting is another issue. We don't have as many people who are inspired to get out to vote like before. I don't know whether the riots contributed to that.
Our youth today need to understand more about how we have progressed, and about Martin Luther King and the riots. It was a reality for us. It was frightening. There were a lot of innocent people arrested. I wouldn't want to live through anything like that again.
In one sense, we made some progress but in another sense we haven't.
Times researcher John Jackson contributed to this report.
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Watts riots: 1965
40 years ago, the National Guard established a curfew zone across a wide stretch of South Los Angeles and surrounding cities in an attempt to suppress the rioting that began in Watts. Today Watts is a different place in some ways and much the same in others.
Watts then and now
*--* Blacks Latinos Others 1965 90% 8% 2% 2000 38% 61% 2%
*--* Males 1965 2000 In labor force 58% 56% Employed / military 86% 79% Unemployed 14% 21% Not in labor force 42% 44% *--*
*--* Females 1965 2000 In labor force 26% 39% Employed / military 86% 75% Unemployed 14% 25% Not in labor force 74% 61%
*--* Owner-occupied Renter-occupied 1965 34% 66% 2000 32% 68%
* 1965 figures include ages 14 and older; 2000 figures include ages 16 and older.
Note: 2000 population statistics are the most recent available. Some percentages may not total 100 because of rounding.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Graphics reporting by Maloy Moore