Schedule of Events

Throughout 2015 and early 2016, CSUDH played host to a variety of events and activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Watts Rebellion. Below are a few of the more notable events during the commemoration.



Watts 50 Film Festival: Movie Screening and Discussion - Assemblyman Mike Gipson hosted this event at the CSUDH University Theatre. The event included screenings of the films Wattstax, Building the Dream, and Selma, followed by a discussion.


Watts Then and Now: Photography and Archive Exhibits - This exhibition ran through January, 2016, and included photographs by Ellie Zenhari, Assistant Professor of Art & Design at CSUDH, as well as historic archival materials provided by Greg Williams, the Director of CSUDH Archives and Special Collections. The kick-off reception features a conversation with Tim Watkins, President and CEO of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee.


3rd Annual Black Family Conference: Black Families Matter - This family-focused event featured speakers on topics including Black Wall Street, utilizing community resources, wealth building,  and social action. There were breakout sessions for parents and youths ages 6 through 18; the event also featured a free lunch, school supply giveaways, door prizes, and a community vision board.


Fire and the Quest for Transformation - This two-day academic symposium centered on the Watts Rebellion. Nationally recognized scholars and speakers took part in two days of discussions and panels about the background and impact of the Rebellion.

CSUDH Founders' DinnerThis commemorative dinner recognized the 50th Anniversary of the Watts Rebellion,
 highlighting the university’s role as a catalyst for change in its aftermath 
and the continuing impact the university makes in its surrounding communities.

Watts' Writers 50th Anniversary Gathering - A number of highly honored writers and poets came together to read, listen, and discuss the continued impace and revelance of the Watts Rebellion. Featured writers included poet Raspoet Ojenke, Watts Prophets members Father Amde and Otis O'Solomon, poet Kamau Daaood, jazz musician Dee Dee McNeil, poet Sundiatta, poet and author Jaha Zainabu, poet and author V Kali, and author Michael Datcher.


Women in Leadership: The Path to Political Power ConferenceHosted by the CSUDH Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute, this event brought together prominent national and regional female political leaders to discuss their paths to political leadership, and the impact of the civil rights movement and the Watts Rebellion in shaping their paths.  They shared their perspectives on public policy changes during the last fifty years that have impacted the Watts community and surrounding region.


Watts Rebellion Book Club - Each month, the Watts Rebellion Book Club at CSUDH held a meeting to discuss books and readings relevant to the 1965 Watts Rebellion, protests and activism, and race relations. Students, faculty, staff, and the general public joined in at this lunchtime brown bag meeting. The group’s reading list included The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Fire This Time by Gerald Horn, and Race, Reform, and Rebellion by Manning Marable.


Throughout Spring Semester:

Watts Rebellion Oral History ProjectAs part of the Commemoration, the university established the CSUDH Watts Rebellion Oral History Project to capture the experiences of a diverse cross-section of people who remember the events that took place from August 11 to 17, 1965, in Watts and surrounding Los Angeles communities. CSUDH students conducted audio and video interviews about the August 1965 urban disturbances. These oral histories contributed to the preservation of the history of the Watts Rebellion by recording the thoughts, recollections, and insights of those who lived through and were impacted by the events.


The Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers of Los Angeles Community ConcertThe Jubilee Singers, a traveling company of 12 to 18, have garnered international acclaim and focused worldwide attention on the vast body of folk music termed "African-American." They performed a concert as part of the Watts Rebellion 50th Anniversary Commemoration.

WATTS NOW and WATTS THEN ExhibitionsWatts Now was an interdisciplinary student exhibition featuring 130 works of art, poems, and social justice projects, including photography, motion graphics, design, drawings, and poetry exploring contemporary Watts. The exhiibition was curated by Michele Bury, Ellie Zenhari, and Kathy Zimmerer of the Art and Design Department.

Watts Then featured items collected by CSUDH Archives and Special Collection related to the Watts Rebellion, including newspaper and magazine coverage of the event, publications from the black perspective, official reports, cultural events that resulted from and books written about or set around the rebellion, along with officials’ correspondences and speeches.


An Afternoon with Sonia Sanchez: Black Culture, Women's Liberation, Peace and Racial Justice - Loker Student Union hosted this discussion with Sonia Sanchez, professor emerita of English at Temple University, and an accomplished poet, playwright, and activist.

Envisioning Transformation - This two-day academic symposium featured a host of nationally-regarded scholars such as Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, Dr. Manuel Pastor, and Dr. Melina Abdullah. The program considered how communities can create futures of social justice and hramony, with dynamism that fosters economic success.


Unity FestThis day-long multicultural celebration was held in CSUDH's Sculpture Garden, and featured live cultural performances, cultural vendors, community organizations, an array of international food, as well as an arts and crafts village.

CSUDH Peace Pole Unveiling and DedicationAs an institution that has helped to bring change and transformation in the region following the Watts Rebellion, CSUDH planted a Peace Pole in the campus sculpture garden, serving as a symbol and monument to peace.