50th Anniversary, Watts Writers Workshop

A Catalyst for Change

From: http://www4.csudh.edu/watts/indexwatts

In 1965, the Watts Rebellion devastated a community and awakened the nation, bringing longstanding grievances and inequalities into the spotlight. California leaders placed their hopes on an institution of higher education as a catalyst for change, and decided to build a new state college close to the communities impacted by the rebellion.

A transformation was needed. And they got one.

Fifty years later, California State University, Dominguez Hills boasts over 90,000 alumni, with over 65 percent of our alumni living within 25 miles of the campus.

The university changes lives each and every day through the transformative power of education.

Join CSU Dominguez Hills in the celebration and remembrance of an importance piece of Los Angeles community and Los Angeles literary history: the influential Watts Writers Workshop.

The Watts Writers Workshop was a creative writing group initiated by screenwriter Budd Schulberg in the wake of the devastating August 1965 Watts Riots in South Central Los Angeles (now South Los Angeles). Schulberg later said: “In a small way, I wanted to help…. The only thing I knew was writing, so I decided to start a writers’ workshop.” The group, which functioned from 1965 to 1973, was composed primarily of young African Americans in Watts and the surrounding neighborhoods. Early on, the Workshop included a theatrical component and one of the founders was the actor Yaphet Kotto. The group expanded its facilities and activities over the next several years with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. Government files later revealed that the Workshop had been the target of covert operations by the FBI. Well-known writers to emerge from the Workshop include Quincy Troupe, Johnie Scott, Eric Priestley, Ojenke, Herbert Simmons, and Wanda Coleman, as well as the poetry group Watts Prophets.

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