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Civil rights, United States, Black Power and backlash, 1965–1978

Sven Dubie

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Northern America » United States of America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

People Kautsky, Karl

Key-Topics human rights, inequality, racism, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00357.x


A week after President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Los Angeles ghetto of Watts erupted into one of the worst urban conflagrations in the history of the country. Precipitated by a series of misunderstandings related to a routine traffic violation, longstanding resentment among blacks toward the Los Angeles Police Department – and fueled by lingering resentments over the mistreatment of voting rights marchers in Selma – the Watts riots lasted nearly a week and involved thousands of blacks over a large swath of the ghetto. Thirty-four people died and nearly a thousand were injured; thousands more were arrested for violence and looting; and hundreds of individuals, mostly black, lost their homes or businesses. It took more than 14,000 national guardsmen and thousands of local police to quell the unrest. To mainstream civil rights leaders it was a disheartening setback and a painful reminder of how much work remained in the struggle for equality. Sadly, the unrest in Watts was but a harbinger of things to come. During the ensuing three summers, nearly three hundred race riots and disturbances occurred all across America and involved tens of thousands of urban blacks. An estimated 250 blacks died in the disturbances, thousands more were injured, and combined property losses were incalculable. The violence led to permanent and bitter divisions in the civil ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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